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[News] VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
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ApneaNews Offline
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Post: #1
VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care

WASHINGTON —
The veteran with sleep apnea who needs a device to sleep soundly gets top priority when it comes to receiving care at the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs, where fake waiting lists at its hospitals and clinics have kept patients waiting months for care.

Top-priority status puts most veterans with sleep apnea in front of veterans who have lost a foot, perhaps by a buried IED in Afghanistan. The VA considers that soldier 40% disabled, and assigns him or her to Priority Group 2 for medical care.

A veteran with sleep apnea, by virtue of needing a continuous positive airway pressure machine to sleep soundly, is automatically considered 50% disabled. Veterans assigned a disability rating of 50% or greater are assigned to Priority Group 1, according to the VA.

"Since funds are limited, VA set up Priority Groups to make sure that certain groups of Veterans are able to be enrolled before others," the department says on its web site.

There are seven groups of veterans who fall into the waiting line before the apnea patient who needs a CPAP machine. Among them: troops awarded the Purple Heart, Medal of Honor and former prisoners of war (Group 3). The permanently homebound (Group 4).

Veterans' claims for sleep apnea have soared nearly 150% since 2009. The condition, characterized by snoring and interrupted breathing, can cause serious health problems if untreated. The malady is associated with obesity and aging, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Compensation to veterans for the disability likely tops $1 billion per year. Nearly nine of 10 veterans receiving compensation are considered 50% disabled by the condition. For a single veteran without dependents, the monthly payment is $822.15 for a disability rating of 50%.

If the 127,713 veterans with a 50% disability rating for sleep apnea in 2013 were paid for that condition alone the cost would have been $1.25 billion.

The soldier or marine who loses a leg below the knee while serving, and can be fitted with a prosthetic limb, is considered 40% disabled. He or she receives a $577.54 monthly payment. In addition, all amputees also receive an additional $101 a month.

The successor to Eric Shinseki, the secretary who resigned Friday in light of the waiting-list scandal, could see the ratings for apnea and other disabilities changed. Every rating — for 15 body systems -— is now under review.

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The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material available is intended to advance the understanding of Sleep Apnea treatment and to advance the educational level of Sleep Apnea patients with regard to their health. Sometimes included is the full text of articles and documents rather than a simple link because outside links frequently "go bad" or change over time. This constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this post is distributed without fee or payment of any kind for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this post for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
05-30-2014 10:31 PM
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Post: #2
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
(05-30-2014 10:31 PM)ApneaNews Wrote:  VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care

WASHINGTON —
The veteran with sleep apnea who needs a device to sleep soundly gets top priority when it comes to receiving care at the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs, where fake waiting lists at its hospitals and clinics have kept patients waiting months for care.

Top-priority status puts most veterans with sleep apnea in front of veterans who have lost a foot, perhaps by a buried IED in Afghanistan. The VA considers that soldier 40% disabled, and assigns him or her to Priority Group 2 for medical care.

A veteran with sleep apnea, by virtue of needing a continuous positive airway pressure machine to sleep soundly, is automatically considered 50% disabled. Veterans assigned a disability rating of 50% or greater are assigned to Priority Group 1, according to the VA.

"Since funds are limited, VA set up Priority Groups to make sure that certain groups of Veterans are able to be enrolled before others," the department says on its web site.

There are seven groups of veterans who fall into the waiting line before the apnea patient who needs a CPAP machine. Among them: troops awarded the Purple Heart, Medal of Honor and former prisoners of war (Group 3). The permanently homebound (Group 4).

Veterans' claims for sleep apnea have soared nearly 150% since 2009. The condition, characterized by snoring and interrupted breathing, can cause serious health problems if untreated. The malady is associated with obesity and aging, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Compensation to veterans for the disability likely tops $1 billion per year. Nearly nine of 10 veterans receiving compensation are considered 50% disabled by the condition. For a single veteran without dependents, the monthly payment is $822.15 for a disability rating of 50%.

If the 127,713 veterans with a 50% disability rating for sleep apnea in 2013 were paid for that condition alone the cost would have been $1.25 billion.

The soldier or marine who loses a leg below the knee while serving, and can be fitted with a prosthetic limb, is considered 40% disabled. He or she receives a $577.54 monthly payment. In addition, all amputees also receive an additional $101 a month.

The successor to Eric Shinseki, the secretary who resigned Friday in light of the waiting-list scandal, could see the ratings for apnea and other disabilities changed. Every rating — for 15 body systems -— is now under review.

Fair Use from:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/nation/201...a/9780521/

This article is crap based. First, the entire VA system is NOT scandal-plagued. It is underfunded thanks to two wars Congress and the Administrations just couldn't bring themselves to live without, and yet made no serious attempt to plan for anyone returning from those wars.

I'm on the VA system. It has been a life saver for me, compared to what I was experiencing before. My primary care physician decided I should be evaluated for apnea, and I was. I was treated wonderfully, got everything I needed, and can't say enough good things about the process. But I did not get moved into the "Priority 1" group of veterans. These are guys with far more serious problems than I can imagine. I'm in a priority group that basically says if they have time to treat me they will. And they do. I do not get disability pay because I was not disabled during my active service. I know lots and lots of vets that do get disability pay and there is not one of them that I would trade places with.

My heart breaks at the over-crap press threatening to destroy the VA system all because of one or two bad operations. Mine is great. I resent that the press and the opposition party is finding it necessary to vilify this system. My God, do you not think there is a little medical malfeasance associated with private insurance or medicare? VA is just another target in an ongoing political war.

Thank you General Shinseki for a gifted and brilliant career. It's too bad you won't be allowed to serve the veterans any longer. It's also too bad that the political mandate for your successor will likely make the veterans issues far worse than they are today.
05-30-2014 11:34 PM
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ShelaghDB Offline

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Post: #3
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
Quote: VA is just another target in an ongoing political war

The opposition parties will sink to any level to gain votes. Its the same up here in Canada. The liberal party had been in power for so long, 15 years I think it was, at the time of war in Afghanistan that our soldiers had to catch a ride there with Americans...Our soldiers also had to wear the wrong camouflage uniform due to a shortage and were highly visible in the one t hey did wear....the green camp, compared to the sand coloured version, for example.

The press is Liberal and its become oh so trendy to vilify soldiers and it disgusts me.

I am not a soldier but my father was a fighter pilot in the British Royal Navy, Flight Air Arms....flew off of ships, one of the most stressful jobs in the world........his was a career from WW2 up until after Korea at which point he became ill with a form of cancer that was later diagnosed as hitting a lot of pilots.
In any event, I am just grateful he was not alive to see the way the world turned against people such as he, or yourself!

And you are most likely correct, in that the person that replaces your General Shinseki will make it worse...

I now know I must be getting older as I thought I would never reach this point, and say, the world was a better place..........back then...LOL

Yikes, I am getting older ;-(
05-31-2014 07:29 AM
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Terry Offline

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Post: #4
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
Quote:I'm on the VA system. It has been a life saver for me, compared to what I was experiencing before. My primary care physician decided I should be evaluated for apnea, and I was. I was treated wonderfully, got everything I needed, and can't say enough good things about the process. But I did not get moved into the "Priority 1" group of veterans. These are guys with far more serious problems than I can imagine. I'm in a priority group that basically says if they have time to treat me they will. And they do. I do not get disability pay because I was not disabled during my active service. I know lots and lots of vets that do get disability pay and there is not one of them that I would trade places with.

Sadly, VA care is spotty. There are some VA hospitals that are #1 in the entire world for particular types of problems, and provide a level of care that can't be had anywhere else, public or private.

Then there are other places where you can literally die waiting for treatment.

FWIW, if I needed to go to the VA for a particular problem, I'd find out where the top couple of places were, and move there.
(This post was last modified: 05-31-2014 12:24 PM by Terry.)
05-31-2014 12:23 PM
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retired_guy Offline

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Post: #5
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
(05-31-2014 12:23 PM)tcarmen Wrote:  Sadly, VA care is spotty. There are some VA hospitals that are #1 in the entire world for particular types of problems, and provide a level of care that can't be had anywhere else, public or private.

Then there are other places where you can literally die waiting for treatment.

FWIW, if I needed to go to the VA for a particular problem, I'd find out where the top couple of places were, and move there.

Yes, that seems to be the case. But then that's also the case with plain vanilla hospitals, or health care in general. Different parts of the country do better than others when it comes to caring for their citizens. I have lived places where I'd fly out of in a heartbeat if I had a sore toe.

As far as the VA is concerned, they do have a little different way of doing business, and you have to figure that out when you start with them. In my case I applied for eligibility on-line, waited about a month, found out I had been accepted and was assigned to my primary care physician. I had an intake exam with her that was very thorough. Then I began to learn that its more about patient responsibility. If something isn't working right or feeling right, I send her an email. She'll evaluate it, write back, and either prescribe something or refer me to a specialist. That's how I got my pulmonist, my cardiologist, and my sleep clinic doc. I generally don't see my primary physician except for once a year. That's ok. She's a traffic cop and she does her job well. But I think the key to it all is the system is dependent on the patient taking responsibility. Just like here in apnea world.

My VA hospital is associated with the University of Oregon Medical Center. So they refer to them whenever they think they need backup. It's a good system, and I only hope the powers that want to be don't find it necessary to drag them down to the level of the non-performers.
05-31-2014 12:37 PM
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Post: #6
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
The VA is SCANDAL PLAGUED.

Underfunded or not, the managers were being given bonuses based on certain "performance measurements" for 'customer service'.

One of the key measures was wait time for an appointment.

So the managers figured out that if they didn't put new signups on the REAL waiting list, they could avoid blowing the "service level target".

They kept a secret list and only moved people to the "real list" once they had an appointment within the target.

This is part of the problem with BIG GOVERNMENT trying to run something like health care.

Stupid measures lead to stupid (even cruel) treatment.

Private industry and competition doesn't always get it right, but with that competition, the morons and short sighted are weeded out.

People take their business to the competition -- Vets were a "captive market". They couldn't go elsewhere unless they paid their own fees, and that actually was BETTER for the VA system since it removed much of the pressure.

BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE led to FEWER CLIENTS which meant MORE BONUS for the managers.

The Inspector General has already determined the problem to be SYSTEMIC, wide spread and rampant across the VA system.

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HerbM
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"We can all breathe together or we will all suffocate alone."
05-31-2014 01:05 PM
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Post: #7
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
I'm a service connected disabled vet priority group 2. I have been diagnosed with apnea but have not had a change in my status nor has my rating increased to 50%. I do have to say that I have been waiting for my cpap through the VA for 9 weeks now and every time I go over to the hospital I'm told there is a back log and be patient. It appears they have contracted with an outside provider Apnea Care out of Buffalo in my case and when I called there yesterday, the Va rep was right on the edge of rude, good thing he didn't step over the line because at this point I'm ready to call corporate to ask where my cpap is. Way too many hands in the pot here. Whenever I deal exclusively with the VA and not outside providers everything is smooth and efficient. It's when they involve outsiders as in "the private sector" that everything goes to crap. Can you tell I'm tired and cranky?
06-03-2014 05:17 AM
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Post: #8
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
(06-03-2014 05:17 AM)jpsantell Wrote:  I'm a service connected disabled vet priority group 2. I have been diagnosed with apnea but have not had a change in my status nor has my rating increased to 50%. I do have to say that I have been waiting for my cpap through the VA for 9 weeks now and every time I go over to the hospital I'm told there is a back log and be patient. It appears they have contracted with an outside provider Apnea Care out of Buffalo in my case and when I called there yesterday, the Va rep was right on the edge of rude, good thing he didn't step over the line because at this point I'm ready to call corporate to ask where my cpap is. Way too many hands in the pot here. Whenever I deal exclusively with the VA and not outside providers everything is smooth and efficient. It's when they involve outsiders as in "the private sector" that everything goes to crap. Can you tell I'm tired and cranky?

I am 96 miles to the West of you in the Erie VA system and have had very little problems when it comes to my CPAP and Sleep Apnea Treatment. I have been able to get my replacement supplies when required. The only hiccup I have encountered is Erie does not have a Sleep Clinic, so I have to make a 1 1/2 hour trip to Pittsburgh VA.
06-03-2014 06:06 AM
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Post: #9
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
2 options that may fix the VA problems:

1) Eliminate VA hospitals and have the VA system give vouchers for veterans to use in civilian facilities

OR

2) Pass a law that would provide all members of Congress (and their dependants) the ability to use the VA system for their medical care as their only sponsored program. If they wanted to get care elsewhere, it would be totally out of their own pockets.
06-03-2014 08:09 AM
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Terry Offline

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Post: #10
RE: VA's sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
(06-03-2014 08:09 AM)jaycee Wrote:  2 options that may fix the VA problems:

1) Eliminate VA hospitals and have the VA system give vouchers for veterans to use in civilian facilities

OR

2) Pass a law that would provide all members of Congress (and their dependants) the ability to use the VA system for their medical care as their only sponsored program. If they wanted to get care elsewhere, it would be totally out of their own pockets.

What would help *a lot* is a little verification of the intake process. The VA has really great internal controls that would have spotted this problem in a heartbeat, if the troubled hospitals hadn't been keeping two sets of books.

Once someone is actually in the system, there are all sorts of checks and balances and auditing. The problem at the VA is like when the Burger King drive through cashier says "Pull up and wait." Once you leave the window, you're counted as served. The people who aren't in the system yet are invisible.
(This post was last modified: 06-03-2014 08:44 AM by Terry.)
06-03-2014 08:43 AM
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