A program in Washington state uses data sharing to help veterans access proper benefits, and saves millions in state Medicaid funding.
A little diligence can save states millions. A 10-year partnership between Washington state, the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) saved the state $30 million and ensured that veterans were getting proper services and benefits. According to a story on USMedicine.com, similar collaborative programs are being used in Maryland and California, and Texas is embarking upon a similar effort.
Washington's program started 10 years ago when a veteran's widow showed Bill Allman, a manager in the state's Department of Social and Health Services, a $70,000 bill for her deceased husband's long-term medical care. Though willing to pay the bill, the woman was unsure if she needed to. A little investigation by Allman revealed that the deceased veteran's military benefits would, in fact, cover most of the bill.
“I didn’t have anything in the computer system that stated he was a veteran, and she didn’t know what benefits he had, because he had taken care of everything,” Allman said. “Come to find out, he was a retired colonel, and he had TRICARE coverage as a retiree, which is about as good a kind of medical coverage as you can get."
In Washington state, officials now use the Public Assistance Reporting Information System (PARIS), a database of Medicaid clients designed to prevent fraud, to compare the state's records to VA and DOD records. This step allows the state to ensure that those entitled to veterans' services are receiving them. It also helps reduce state costs by splitting Medicaid costs for veterans with the federal government.