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January 1999

Changing Policies in the Veterans Health Administration: Will They Make a Difference?

Arch Ophthalmol. 1999;117(1):106-107. doi:10.1001/archopht.117.1.106

THE VETERANS Health Administration (VHA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs operates the largest integrated health care system in the country, serving more than 3 million veterans annually.1 Most veterans in the VHA are disabled or impoverished; 59% have no private or Medigap insurance. Users have a higher level of illness than the general population, particularly hypertension, diabetes mellitus, psychiatric illness, and ischemic heart disease. In principle, only veterans who have service-connected disabilities or are poor are eligible for care, however, the VHA is legislated to treat veterans with special disabilities of blindness, amputation, catastrophic disability, substance abuse, spinal cord dysfunction, traumatic brain injury, serious mental illness, and posttraumatic stress disorders. In 1996 the VHA provided care for 22,392 blind veterans at a cost of $327 million.2

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