Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is extremely difficult to treat. Gaining access to medical providers that specialize in the disease is crucial to ensuring longevity and quality of care. Luckily, military personnel and veterans have access to some of the top specialists in the field through the national network of Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals. Here is what you need to know about obtaining mesothelioma treatment through the Veterans Administration.
Free Treatment through the VA Healthcare System
Qualifying mesothelioma patients who are able to prove their disease was the result of asbestos exposure during active-duty military service can obtain cost-free cancer treatment through the VA healthcare system (in addition to disability compensation).
This includes co-pays and deductibles.
VA Treatment Centers with Mesothelioma Specialists
Unfortunately, not every VA hospital has the personnel and resources to provide top-quality mesothelioma treatment. The following VA medical centers employ mesothelioma cancer specialists who are best equipped to treat afflicted veterans:
- Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center (Miami, FL)
- West Los Angeles VA Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA)
- VA Boston Healthcare System (Boston, MA)
These medical centers employ doctors that specialize in mesothelioma, as well as partner with neighboring hospitals and research centers to ensure that veterans receive world-class care.
Travelling for Treatment
Although these three hospitals are geographically spread throughout the United States, many veteran mesothelioma patients live far from any one of the centers. If, for example, you live in Ohio or Texas, it may be difficult and expensive to travel to Miami, Los Angeles, or Boston for regular treatment.
The Veterans Administration has provided for this contingency by putting in place the Beneficiary Travel Program. This program provides for mileage reimbursements, ‘common carrier’ transportation (plane, bus, train, etc.), or in special circumstances ‘special mode’ transportation (ambulance, wheelchair van) related to travel to and from VA medical centers, or VA authorized non-VA health care for eligible patients.
Most VA medical centers have established programs for providing free lodging for veterans who have to travel more than 50 miles for treatment, and their families or caregivers. These programs, known as ‘hoptel,’ will reimburse the cost of staying in hotels near the medical center. Additionally, the private Fisher House Foundation provides longer-durational lodging for families of veterans in treatment at VA medical centers. Guests have access to kitchen and laundry facilities, as well as private guest suites.
For patients who must travel for treatment, the VA further provides a dedicated Travelling Veteran Coordinator who ensures that the patient’s local medical team coordinates treatment with the specialists that they are travelling to see. This allows for seamless care across regional and state boundaries.
VA Healthcare and Mesothelioma
Although the VA has put in place several programs to assist veterans suffering from mesothelioma related to their military service, the process for filing successful claims can be extremely complicated. Inadequate supporting documentation, missed deadlines, or improperly filled-out forms can all result in a denial of crucial healthcare and disability benefits. To make matters worse, many veterans are unaware of the full scope of these programs, and miss out on potentially life-saving benefits simply because they were never informed that they might qualify. If you are a mesothelioma patient and a military veteran, and are unsure of the benefits and compensation to which you are legally entitled, consult with an attorney specializing in veteran mesothelioma claims.