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VA Begins New Outreach Efforts

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 31 May 2012 07:45pm | comments

A new effort is underway to bring more Mississippi veterans into the VA health care system. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports there could be thousands of eligible veteransthroughout the state who are not enrolled.

The VA is trying to bring more of Mississippi's 200-thousand veterans into the health care system with a series of outreach fairs across the state.

The first fair took place at the V-A hospital in Jackson yesterday.

67-year old Keith Annison of Jackson stopped by the fair for a checkup....He says he only recently enrolled in the program, years after he left the service.

"I had a job that provided medical insurance and I didn't need to worry about it. I lost my job and the medical insurance went. So it was either COBRA or find some alternative and this seemed to be the best bet," Annison said.

The VA also reaching out to veterans who still have private health 60-year old Carolyn Reed of Hattiesburg who says it is a strain to pay for procedures through her private insurance.


"I had to have an MRI on both of my knees and they told me I had to come up with $1900. So they put it in for me to come to the VA and my insurance paid part of the cost. But I did not have $1900 to have it done in Hattiesburg," Reed said.

Brining veterans into the system before a major health crisis or job loss helps the veterans understand the system and keep their eligibility.

VA Hospital associate director Shannon Novotny says that is why they are trying to target more, and younger, veterans.

"Using technology devices such as video teleconference and instant message and items of that nature to increase access, especially tio our younger veterans. So all of those things are initiatives to get the younger veterans into our health care system and improve access for them," Novotny said.

There are ten hospitals and clinics that service Mississippi veterans, and the VA is planning more outreach fairs around the state.

The VA spends about 700-million dollars a year on health care in Mississippi.





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