Policy Conflicts Hurt Defense-VA Collaboration On Healthcare: GAO

Jessica Zigmond | ModernHealthcare.com | September 29, 2012

"Incompatible policies" in several areas are preventing the U.S. Defense and Veterans Affairs departments from collaborating effectively at sites where the two healthcare systems deliver care, a federal audit has concluded.

In a 54-page report (PDF), the Government Accountability Office assessed how well the VA and Defense—which have annual estimated costs of $53 billion and $49 billion, respectively, for 2013—work together to improve access, quality and cost of care at collaboration sites where care is delivered jointly.

Auditors found a need for improvement in four areas: information technology systems, in which the two departments collect, store and process information in different systems; business and administrative processes that allow for different billing practices and problems capturing patient workload information; access to military bases, which makes it difficult to balance base security needs with veterans' needs to access medical facilities on base; and medical facility construction, where “misaligned construction planning” hurts efforts to jointly plan facilities that serve VA and Defense beneficiaries...