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Legislature hears need for increase in Health Care Advocates

“Our top priority this session is to work with the legislature to address the challenges facing our veterans such as helping our veterans access our VA funded health care services with the assistance of our advocates,” Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) Chairwoman Laura Koerner told the Senate Finance Committee

Koerner, a Navy veteran, and TVC Executive Director Thomas Palladino, an Army veteran, presented to Legislature (Senate Finance Committee) the agency’s exceptional needs for additional funding on February 9.

Koerner began by showcasing TVC’s positive impact for veterans and Texas.

“The general revenue invested in the agency generates a significant return on investment. For example, in partnership with the Veterans County Service Officers, our Claims department managed an active claims load of 243,000 claims, that produced $3.98 billion in compensation paid directly to Texas veterans in FY 2020.”

Koerner then highlighted the effectiveness of TVC Health Care Advocates (HCAs). “Recently, in north Texas a TVC Health Care Advocate helped a veteran hospitalized with COVID 19 after a visit to a non-VA emergency room. The Health Care Advocate worked to have the VA cover the cost of the veteran’s hospitalization and enroll the veteran in the VA health care to cover future costs. He also assisted the veteran’s return to health through securing VA provided home health care, a portable oxygen unit and physical therapy.”

TVC Health Care Advocates (HCAs) act as liaisons between the veteran and the VA medical system. They advocate for the veteran to resolve health care conflicts in areas such as: doctor appointments, labs, testing, pharmacy assistance, getting outside referrals, and VA health care related billing.

Following Koerner, Palladino illustrated the rising demand for HCA services while the number of HCAs has stayed the same. He began by noting that HCA services were created by the Legislature in 2015 with 12 HCAs.

“Currently, there are only 12 veteran Health Care Advocates covering the entire state of Texas in VA medical facilities. Since 2015, these 12 advocates have provided over 35,000 services to veterans. Almost 6,000 last year alone (2020),” said Palladino. “Positioning an additional 12 advocates in more VA facilities across the state will increase veteran access … especially in rural areas.”

Watch Koerner’s and Palladino’s full presentation at Finance Committee.

Veterans who need assistance with VA health care, connect with the TVC Health Care Advocate near you.

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