The Department of Veteran Affairs has known since January that the cost of medications was rising and that it would cause a tremendous financial loss. They have even discussed rationing expensive drugs “after asking Congress for $500 million to pay for the same drugs,” according to Washington Examiner.
VA officials have given Congress the notion that hospitals throughout the nation would be closed unless ‘swift action’ was taken.
Hepatitis C, one of the most expensive medications given to veterans, is one of the drugs the VA is allegedly planning to withhold from some veterans. The Hep C drug can be as much as $1,000 a pill, a price the pharmaceutical company, Gilead, believes to be fair considering what it cost for them to develop the treatments, Sovldi and Harvoni.
Hep C is caused by the HCV virus:
- It is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
- It can be a mild illness lasting a few weeks in up to 15% of individuals. • It can lead to chronic (lifelong) illness that can cause liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and liver cancer.
- It is spread mainly through contact with the blood of an infected person.
Commendably, Gilead has already negotiated discounts for the VA, as much as 40%.
The VA, however, is still in need of funding, for Hep C drugs, and more but Congress doesn’t seem happy with the tactic the VA is using to go about getting this funding.
Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran told the Examiner, “It’s another instance of the VA telling Congress, the Veterans committee and others about how, if we give them money, it would be spent, and then it’s a different plan once we give them the money.”
Moran went on to say, “If the VA tells us there’s a crisis and tells us to respond to that crisis, I would expect them to use the money as they told us they would. A question would be, then how are you spending the money if you are refusing to treat all the veterans that are suffering from this condition?”
Deputy VA secretary Sloan Gibson stated to the House Veterans’ affairs Committee that they “don’t expect to do any rationing of care with Hepatitis C.”
An internal plan, however, had already been made by the VA to do just that, according to the Examiner.
VA Employees had apparently warned Gibson of the possible financial issues in January but Gibson denies these allegations.
Chief VA financial officer, Kathleen Turco, according to Examiner, “dismissed those concerns on Jan. 21. Six months later, VA officials stood before Congress and claimed they were essentially blindsided by the largest budget shortfall in the agency’s history.”
The VA, once again, finds itself in the spot light and has some explaining to do. Rationing needed medications for our veterans…Really? VA, did you really plan to do that?