16,167 PA Veterans Enrolled in VA Health Care Over Past 365 Days, a 54.07% Increase

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On Friday, March 29, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it has enrolled 16,167 Pennsylvania Veterans in VA health care over the past 365 days – 54.07% more than it enrolled the previous year. Nationally, the VA enrolled 401,006 Veterans in VA health care over the past 365 days – 30% more than the 307,831 it enrolled the previous year. This is the most yearly enrollees in at least five years at the VA and nearly a 50% increase over pandemic-level enrollment in 2020.

This historic enrollment has been made possible by the PACT Act, which has allowed the VA to expand VA health care and benefits to millions of Veterans. The VA is also conducting the most aggressive outreach campaign in its history, including hosting over 2,600 events since the passage of the PACT Act, launching a $16+ million advertising campaign, using public service announcements, and – for the first time ever – sending text messages to Veterans encouraging them to enroll in VA health care. The VA is continuing these aggressive outreach efforts throughout 2024, with more than 550 in-person events already scheduled for this year.

Enrolling Veterans in health care is a top priority for the VA and the Biden-Harris Administration because the VA has proven to be the best care in America for Veterans. Veterans who receive VA health care have better health outcomes than non-enrolled Veterans, and VA hospitals have dramatically outperformed non-VA hospitals in overall quality ratings and patient satisfaction ratings. Additionally, VA health care is often more affordable than non-VA health care for Veterans. In total, the VA is currently delivering more care and more benefits to more Veterans than ever before in our nation’s history, setting an all-time record for health care appointments provided in 2023.

“We want every eligible Veteran to enroll in VA health care for one simple reason: Veterans who come to VA are proven to have better health outcomes – and pay less – than Veterans who don’t,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “That’s why we’ve spent the past year meeting Veterans where they are – hosting thousands of events, sending millions of texts, advertising on every corner, and much more – to get them to come to VA. This aggressive outreach campaign has led more Veterans to enroll in VA care than during any year in at least a decade, and we’re not slowing down now.”

“VA is the best, most affordable care in America for Veterans, so we want all eligible Veterans to enroll today,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal, M.D. “Our clinicians know Veterans – they often are Veterans – and they know exactly how to help. Even if you don’t need this care today, you might need it tomorrow, or the next day, or 30 years from now. It’s quick and easy to apply, and once you’re in, you have access for life.”

The VA recently expanded health care eligibility for millions of Veterans nationwide, years earlier than called for by the PACT Act. As of March 5th, all Veterans who were exposed to toxins and other hazards while serving in the military and meet certain requirements became eligible to enroll directly in VA health care. This means that all Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror, or any other combat zone after 9/11 will be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits. Additionally, Veterans who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty in the United States will also be eligible to enroll. The VA also recently expanded health care to all World War II Veterans.

The VA is able to serve these new enrollees, in part, due to last year’s record hiring in the VA’s Veterans Health Administration. Last year, we exceeded our hiring goals in the Veterans Health Administration – growing at the fastest rate in 15 years and bringing in more than 61,000 new hires – to prepare for an increase in VA health care enrollment among Veterans under the PACT Act. In total, VHA now has more employees than ever before in our history, and the VA’s retention efforts also led to a 20% decrease in turnover rate among VHA employees from 2022 to 2023.

Moving forward, the VA will continue to aggressively reach out to Veterans to encourage them to come to the VA. The VA encourages all Veterans, family members, caregivers, and survivors to learn more about the VA and apply for their world-class health care and earned benefits today.

For more information about VA care, visit the VA’s health care website. For more information about the impact of the PACT Act, visit the VA’s PACT Act dashboard.…Read more by Lexi Gonzalez

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