US Medicine, October 13, 2011
As the tepid economy puts a vise on spending nationwide, state governments are searching for ways to take the pressure off their treasuries. A method that has been used to great success in Washington and is finding traction in other states is to identify veterans on Medicaid who are eligible for military or veterans benefits and make sure they are receiving everything to which they are entitled. Just last month, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder listed as one of the cornerstones of a comprehensive health plan helping veterans in his state access VA benefits. California and Maryland already have similar programs in place, and Texas is in the process of developing one. In some ways, the programs are win-win. Millions in dollars are saved by the states, which splits the tab for Medicaid with the federal government, as more care is being paid for solely by VA or TRICARE. Another benefit, and some argue the most important one, is that states are helping to locate and inform veterans about the benefits of VA care—something that has been a challenge for the VA. On the other hand, it is not clear that VA, which has had problems with budget projections in the past, would not be able to accommodate a significant increase in veteran patients without an influx of more funds.