Medicare would have saved an average of nearly $12 billion per year if it had the Department of Veterans Affairs' ability to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies, according to researchers writing in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. And that's just for 50 drugs.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Veterans' private health care program led to longer waits
The Department of Veterans Affairs program that sends more veterans to private hospitals and doctors has resulted in longer wait times and a higher taxpayer bill, ProPublica reports with PolitiFact.
The big picture: The program was set up to help veterans avoid lengthy waits for care. Instead, veterans had to wait at least 30 days 41% of the time, and sometimes they had to wait as long as 70 days, according to government watchdog estimates.
- The two private contractors hired to run the program have been paid nearly $2 billion for overhead, including profit, since 2014.
- That's 24% of the companies' total program expenses, the rest of which went to medical claims. The Affordable Care Act capped the private insurance industry's overhead at 15%–20%, and only about 8% of the Defense Department's Tricare program spending goes to overhead.
- The VA paid the contractors at least $295 every time it authorized private care for a veteran. This processing fee for each referral was sometimes bigger than the doctor's bill, the two groups reported.
What we're watching: Congress passed a law this year that consolidates all of the VA's programs for buying private care.
Go deeper: Trump signs VA bill, opposes funding it