The Health Care System for Veterans: An Interim Report

Source: Congressional Budget Office

With the return of veterans having served in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and with a much larger number of veterans from earlier eras turning to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for at least a portion of their health care, the department is now treating over 5 million veterans each year. Many observers have suggested that the quality of that care has been bolstered by advances in health information technology as well as in other areas such as the coordination of care and the management of chronic diseases, which may have implications for other components of the nation’s health care system.

In response to requests from the Chairmen of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has prepared this interim paper that describes the incentives for quality that VA has included in its management system and its uses of health information technology. A final paper, anticipated next year, will consider whether other government or private-sector health systems would benefit from adopting those and other practices by VA. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide impartial analysis, this paper makes no recommendations.

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