WASHINGTON — Poor synchronization between DoD and VA may be leading to a worsening of patient-care coordination. If the two departments do not start working together quickly to solve the issue, it could adversely affect the health of the veterans they are meant to be serving, government investigators warned.
In 2007, Congress ordered the creation of a Federal Recovery Coordination Program (FRCP) to act as a single point of contact for severely injured veterans as they moved between the DoD and VA healthcare systems. The program was meant to be a joint initiative but is currently run solely out of VA. A March Government Accountability Office (GAO) report showed that the FRCP is competing with other services, including DoD’s own Recovery Coordination Program. As a result, the single point of contact that Congress envisioned does not exist.
This led to a House VA Committee meeting in May in which legislators took VA and DoD officials to task for their poor partnering and what seemed like unwillingness by DoD to give VA recovery coordinators sufficient access to patients.
The two departments were ordered to devise a plan to fix these problems. Three months after the request, VA and DoD sent a letter to Congress saying the departments are considering several options. However, they would not identify those options, and the letter noted that none had been finalized.
A follow-up report by GAO released last month notes that this indecision has been seen before and that prior attempts by VA and DoD to collaborate to solve this issue have led to the identification of various options but never any actual movement to resolve duplication, overlap and conflict between its recovery-coordination programs.
According to GAO, patients’ enrollment in multiple-coordination programs — not only in DoD and VA, but also in individual military services — results in multiple care coordinators and case managers. Lack of information exchange and poor coordination between the programs has resulted in redundancy, confusion and frustration for enrollees.