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Texas Legislature, Governor approve doubling Health Care Advocates to assist more veterans

Chair Koerner at Senate Finance hearing

The budget approved by the Texas Legislature and by Governor Greg Abbott included the Texas Veterans Commission’s (TVC) request to add 12 more Health Care Advocates (HCAs) in VA facilities to help resolve veterans’ health care questions and issues.

TVC HCAs advocate for individual veterans. They work with the veteran to resolve VA health care conflicts in areas such as doctor appointments, labs, testing, pharmacy assistance, getting outside referrals, and VA health care related billing.

TVC Chairwoman Laura Koerner and Executive Director Thomas Palladino presented to the Senate Finance Committee in February 2021 the need to increase Health Care Advocates for veterans and the additional funding needed to do so.

“The general revenue invested in the agency generates a significant return on investment,” said Koerner, a Navy veteran. She explained how the actions of an HCA successfully convinced the VA to cover the non-VA facility costs and home health care for a COVID sickened veteran.

Palladino, an Army veteran, cited that since the HCA Department was created in 2015, the current number of HCAs had remained at 12. “The increased demand for health care advocacy services from Texas veterans far exceeds the programs capability,” said Palladino, noting that they provided almost 6,000 services to veterans last year.

Watch Koerner and Palladino testify for veterans at the Senate Finance Committee at .

The additional HCAs are part of a state-wide effort of TVC to expand services and staff into underserved areas.

Last year, TVC’s Claims service in Texas grew with the addition of offices and staff in eight cities across Texas which previously had none.

The new Claims offices, additional staff and funding necessary was approved by the Texas Legislature in its 2019 session.

Pictured is TVC Chairwoman Laura Koerner presenting in February to Legislature (Senate Finance Committee) the need to increase Health Care Advocates for veterans and the additional funding needed to do so.

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