Veterans Choice To Be Fleeced For Hepatitis C Veterans

Hepatitis C Veterans

Benjamin KrauseVeterans Affairs unilaterally decided to dip into Veterans Choice to fund antiviral medication for Hepatitis C veterans. The recent decision mandated that all infected veterans be outsourced to Veterans Choice effective immediately.

Last week, Sloan Gibson plead with Congress for additional flexibility to allow the agency to dip into untapped reserves set aside for the Veterans Choice Program. An administrative strangle hold on access to non-VA health care has resulted in much of the $10 billion allocation to go unused.

According to VA’s logic, Congress’s refusal to capitulate to Secretary McDonald’s request to gut Veterans Choice is now being implemented anyway without authorization. The agency will now use the unlawfully withheld funds to pay for antiviral drugs for Hepatitis C treatments that are underfunding by $400 million just this year alone by outsourcing these veterans.

As a result of the power grab, all 180,000 Hepatitis C veterans will be outsourced for health care through the Veterans Choice contractor responsible for administration of the program. VA is bending the rules claiming the lack of access to the drug equates to a wait list, and as such the veterans are being referred out of VA’s health care system.

While we are all in support of Hepatitis C veterans getting the cure, I think the money should come from a different source than the funds set aside for the Veterans Choice Program.

The Republic explained the background of the Hep C cure as follows:

The disease is considered epidemic among Vietnam-era veterans due to transfusions and blood contact in combat or training. More than 60 percent test positive, while 1 in 10 veterans overall has the infection — a rate five times higher than the general population. Last year, about 3,000 veterans died in VA care as a result of HCV infection, according to internal records.

Roughly 400 veterans are treated for hepatitis C in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, a spokeswoman said.

Hepatitis C patients today are treated with a breakthrough medication, sofosbuvir, approved in late 2013 under the brand names Sovaldi and later as Harvoni. In combination with other drugs, sofosbuvir cures the HCV infection in about nine of 10 patients while reducing risks of cirrhosis and liver cancer.

However, the pills reportedly cost about $1,000 each retail, or $600 per dose to the VA at a discount. A typical treatment regimen of 12 to 24 weeks costs $50,000 to $100,000. The price tag to serve VA patients could exceed $10 billion.

Lots of concerns on this one. The funds were provided by Congress for Veterans Choice and not for another treatment program. Instead, shouldn’t VA seek adequate funding for the cure within its normal budget? Is the agency robbing from Peter to pay Paul?


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  1. The point is being missed. $10 Billion on the man ware side of the budget instead of General’s war toys purchased from the military industrial complex. How many million can be spent on road blocking VA care and compensation if the total becomes $100 billion?

    President Eisenhower warned us.

  2. Forget making deals with big pharma they’re too damn greedy. There’s a group that have modeled their site after the Dallas Buyers club and are helping people obtain the hep c treatment meds from India, China and Bangladesh for a fraction of what it would cost here. The group goes to each country gets the meds and has them tested to make sure they are the real thing (reports are posted) and they help people connect with doctors willing to treat with generics and obtain the meds directly from the manufacturer.

    The VA should use them. They are honest people who believe in helping others and are NOT making a profit and they don’t get bonuses.

  3. Gee, I missed this one, Ben. VA has been dogging this for years. They bought a trainload of Interferon and Teleprevir (an early variant of the new protease inhibitors like Sofosbuvir/Harvoni). Combined with Ribavirin, it had a 65% success rate if you could stand the side effects which were brutal. Many could not and dropped out. I, myself, almost died from my first dose of Interferon/Ribavirin in 2007. VA actually tried to put me back on in in 2011.

    The problems is simple. Fix it now or fix it later when we are sicker. VA promised me the new stuff (Sofosbuvir) in 2013 and had a slot open for June 2014. They never called. Must have been one of those Phoenix scheduling snafus. I have asked a few times and never caught any air with them. It seems natural to start eradicating this ASAP with whatever funding is available as the ultimate cost for a new liver is over $200 K. That is an upfront cost. The added money for Prograf and other anti-rejection drugs and a lifetime of care is off the map.
    To correct a few things. One in ten Vets has it but Vietnam Vets (not Vietnam-era Vets) are 67% more likely to have it than non-Vietnam Vets. Drugs are not the primary cause. Blood exposure is. VA would love to tar and feather anyone who contracted it in the 60s-80s but the body of evidence is pointing now towards the pneumatic jetgun injectors which virtually all of us were exposed to. I recently bought one and will be using it at BVA hearings to prove its inherent unsanitariness. The Air Force took them out of use as early 1997 based on the inability to keep them sanitized.

    We have greater luck in winning these claims now and a doctor willing to write the nexus letters free based on review of contemporary STRs. I handed one off to Keith Snyder last fall and he prevailed at the BVA in February so we know the winning recipe is there.

    Yes, the cure for HCV is expensive. So is the flip side of ignoring it. VA has been blowing bubbles since this began to metastasize in 1992. Continuing to put it off is merely replicating the Phoenix problem-ignore them until they die and that solves it. Using VA Choice is fine. It all comes out of the same VA pot if you can simply get them to pay for it. That has been the problem for the last five years. I call it the Yes we have no bananas argument.

    Alex sends

  4. All these comments are typical of our goverment. They just don’t give a damn and never did. They taut their allegiance to our veterans on the news, but in reality they just don’t give a shit if we will die.The VSO’s are puppets and just drawing their goverment benefits while smiling and saying they will help you.
    GOD BLESS AMERICA- that was I used to think. But they have let this country down and all our fallen heroes they have spat on.

  5. I cannot fathom how any fiance official within the VA can get away with this misappropriation of funds without going to prison at most, or being fired at least…Unless Congress made the language in the appropriation so loose that money for the lack of Choice program is nothing more than a slush fund. When Congress appropriates money to any federal agency, the money must be spent on programs the agency asked Congress to fund. They cannot take from one pot of money and use it for something different after Congress appropriated the money, unless the agency goes to congress first and asks to reprogram the funds. They CANNOT take money programmed for providing medical care and use it for employee travel as an example, without first getting permission from Congress. I don’t know if the 40 mile rule was in the legislation, but if it was, and the VA is just arbitrarily changing who qualifies for Choice without getting permission from Congress, then they are missappropriating funds. I believe vets with HCV should get the best care possible, and if that means outside the VA, then fine. Problem is, why would the VA choose to provide better care outside the VA for one medical condition than they would other medical conditions such as cancer or ALS?

  6. As a veteran with HCV, I have been through the gamut, including stage IV cirrhosis, liver cancer and transplant. I, too, am a Vietnam era veteran and have proven service connection (SC) for HCV. However, I am the exception in getting SC. Many of us are fighting daily with the VA.

    If you are a veteran or dependent with HCV there is a Facebook support group designed to help. Please visit us on Facebook at

    Also, please sign our petition to get Veterans with HCV the drugs they need to cure this disease.

  7. Meanwhile, never mind the infestation of RATS announced yesterday that were found at the Tampa, FL., VAMC…dead rats as well.
    So, even if the VA is going to steal the Choice Card $$$ for the Hep C cure, the VA still has the RATS and unsterile environments to ensure you will…need…the cure….because the VA may very well give you all the Hep’s and HIV and MRSA and CDIFF too…this enrages me beyond belief how the VA cannot negotiate with Big Pharma…I know Medicare is not even allowed to negotiate…so what contractors and VA heads are raking I the dough…at the expense of lives?

    Need we look again more closely to the atrocities of the Nazi Germany Era, and think about a modern day Nuremberg Trials…for Gov’t/Fed/VA that place $ before life…but certainly have no issue with sending us to wars to keep the precious liberty part…I think we all are really tired of being screwed.

    We Veteran’s and our plight are obviously not “sensational” enough for the main stream media. 22 suicides a DAY…that should wake people up if you do that math for them and tattoo that on a Kardashian ass so it gains attention…man, RATS in a hospital? Come on!?
    Stealing $$ from funded program that the VA orchestrated it’s perceived failure? Yes~!

    1. Oh…I also agree that it’s time for Sloan Gibson to go crawl back where he came from at the While House. The “Cleaner” has done nothing for Vets and this is a slap in ours and taxpayers faces…and contempt of what Congress allocated $$ for, the Choice Card Program.

  8. Hep C is a drug company scam job,

    the VA is a drug company scam job.

    As always, to hell with Vet’s and feed the drug companies unethical treatment programs that kill livers and kidneys with life time prescriptions of rat poison.

  9. I think Congress should overrule and overturn the hepatitis C medication and SLOAN GIBSON should definitely without question GO!!!

    Sincerely Yours
    Frank P. Calderon

  10. “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everwhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Groucho Marx……

  11. Has anyone heard of the VA pulling this before? Today my VSO told me that even though my claim keeps being delayed and was ready for decision months ago, and this is 6 months AFTER I went for my C&P exams where the VA’s doctors said I need this assistance, the VA now says they want more VA medical records. I am certain the way they are required to do this is they gather records BEFORE you go for your C&P exams, then you have the exams, then they make their decision. Plus, they are claiming my claim goes back to the end of the line and I will have to wait another 6 to 8 months for them to “reply” AFTER they get the records they claim they want. My VSO is brand new in his position, so we asked him today how long he has been doing this, if he was a VSO before he started this position, but he refuses to tell us how long he has been at this. He acts like a total shill for the VA, and a shill for the American Legion at Oakland Regional Office that acts like him, and that regional office is famous for throwing thousands of VA files down elevator shafts and hiding them in broom closets. I believe the VA has done the equivalent of throwing my claim in the trash. They are supposed to gather records before C&P exams, NOT after. How can the VA get by with this trick?

    1. I would suggest switching VSO’s and to another Veterans Organization. Something doesn’t sound right. You might even want to have someone other than that VSO investigate where your “files” are if you suspect foul play. Just a suggestion….

    2. That gathering records process always frustrated me, and seemed to be nothing more than a way for a rater to clear his desk with an excuse causing a delay. My claim had been handled this way, the VA claiming they need more records, claiming they have all my VA treatment records, but somehow missing the proof needed that is contained right in the treatment record they claim they have. It was denied 3 times, and on the 4th attempt, the rater told me in a phone call it looked like nobody had ever looked at my claim. She didn’t respond when I asked how that could be since it has been denied 3 times. I had a favorable decision within a week…after trying almost 7 years. That decision only came after testifying before Congress. As for the Legion, my VSO was Legion for the second denial. He openly stated that the VSO job was only temporary until a better job came along. The VFW handled the first claim which was essentially having me fill out a claim form and him mailing it in. I’ve had better luck with Paralyzed Veterans and the DAV. I refuse to have anything to do with the Legion based on how piss poor their VSO’s are.
      Ask other vets who the good VSOs might be in your area, and change your Power of Attorney immediately.

      1. Forget the VSOs. They are in collusion with the VA. Time after time they prove me right. No matter whether its AMVETS or DAV. They all seem to be on the same VA page. Talk to your congressman. They are there to help and they will if you take the time. They seem to take their job a bit more seriously. Good luck.

  12. Again today on Ch 9 news@ noon, the VA has a $3 billion overage, taking care of 7 million more vets, wait time is 50% WORSE and something else. Sorry, I can’t remember what it was.
    Question, If the VA now has a $3 billion dollar overage, where the hell did all those BILLIONS go, which was allocated to them late last year?
    Again, follow the money trail. I’ll bet it will lead us to a bunch of people we all know…..
    FYI, South Carolina took the Confederate Flag down. All this while “activists were burning the American Flag outside the church where the incident took place.The activists were displaying the Black Liberation Flag. To quote the ‘story’; ‘Black Lives Matter’ Flying Black Liberation Flag in South Carolina While Burning the American Flag. It was first put on “the right wing website”.

    1. Must not forget about the RAT INFESTATION at the Tampa VAMC…dead RATS as well.
      The VA certainly still has the means to give you an infectious disease…scary mary!

  13. Sorry, the website is,
    You tube
    There are many stories. There’s one which is from Jun 4, 2015. It concerned the use of a hidden camera. The title is; “Hidden Camera: VA Director says VA Turning Veterans into Drug Addicts”
    There are many stories. Some quite old, some new. I would suggest looking at them. You might find some not put on Disabled

  14. If the VA hadn’t been gaming the rules on Vet’s choice to make it nearly impossible to get in, the money would have been allocated to Vets who need help and can’t get to a center…and this money wouldn’t be available for them to STEAL…

  15. It is encouraging that VA wants to foot the bill for this very expensive 90% cure rate medicine, but who is not getting what he or she should as a result? If VA is saying almost all HepC cases are us Vietnam vets, that is suspicious from my perspective. We are almost all older than 65 and have had numerous blood tests over the years. I doubt many cases of HepC caused by blood tranfer 45 years ago would only now show itself. Likely most of us have had some other exposure to HepC since leaving Vietnam.

    VA is not the only source for the drug. My wife got it as part of the study completed a year or so ago and she is now free of the virus. It works. If the fed govt through the VA wants to foot the bill for all infected vets, why not be willing to pay for ANY HepC patient? Let Medicare pay for it and vets not service connected for HepC can use Medicare, saving the VA funds it needs for other expenses. Let HepC be treated as all other conditions, based on the veteran’s service connected status.

  16. While they’re soaking up the funds, it’d be nice to see them combine choice and the fee basis programs. Then send the 50 percentile plus rated vets who are more than 50 miles from a VA Medical Center to private care.

    50/50 Program.

    Would likely cover all those having chronic complicated health issues and would likely keep the VA out of hot water for failure to provide adequate services. Would vastly reduce law suits and would actually satisfy a large portion of the disabled veteran population.

    As I view this world behind rose colored glasses.

  17. I said when the legislation was signed last year that it was a win for the VA because they basically got a blank check from Congress. The ink was probably not even dry before the VA was figuring out ways to game it while still enjoying the extra funding.

    I have mixed emotions on this one. At least the money will be spent treating vets rather than another debacle like the Colorado hospital construction. OTOH, it’s crazy to think that the nation I fought for is now being run almost exclusively by the executive branch and its unelected appointees.

  18. Now we know what is behind the VA infecting thousands of veterans with HIV and Hepatitis C as reported in the major media the past few years. It’s the old con, ‘create a crisis so they can get funding.’

      1. sure it is eric. and they are right on schedule building that hospital. and, there was no secret waiting list that vets died waiting in line for. and the Oakland Regional office did not throw over ten thousand claims down an elevator shaft and hide them for years in a broom closet. and VA leadership did not post a bizarre photo of a veteran hanging himself as if that is funny. and, the VA does not have a dangerous reputation for over-medicating vets on opiates. and, secretary McDonald did not falsely claim to be Special Forces. and, Shinseki did not resign because the VA is hopelessly corrupt and he had no idea what to do about it. and, they didn’t steal the special funds for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act to use for something “more important”… and, and, and you are a troll and a shill, eric! go buy some more cookies for your local VA regional office and tell them what a great job they are doing..

  19. U-tube has a MANY, and I do mean many, stories (with videos and ‘voice commentaries’) of what’s going on around the world. My wife is on it now. She says to ‘type in the search you want’, once you get onto U-tube.
    After she is done. I’m going to see what I can find on the VA. When I’m done, I will report back….

    1. I was thinking earlier how it would really help to have a YouTube channel set up exclusively for VA horror stories, as told by veterans or their surviving family members. Today’s society reacts more to something visual, and we’ve all seen the reaction by the public to a video going viral and viewed thousands of times.Think of any BlackLivesMatter protest and how it got coverage because someone posted a video. Think of how upset you are seeing idiots posting video of burning the flag. I can picture a video of a tired vet or a tearful widow telling the story of what the VA did to them, what VA it was, who the director was, and who their Congressional representative is. I believe a video or 2 going viral, and you would see reaction from the VA and Congress so fast it would be stunning. I think this more than anything would also get media attention because they could hear the story for themselves, put it on their own web site, air the audio on radio, and contact the veteran for follow-up stories.
      Any thoughts? If you find a channel already like this, can you post it here?

      1. 91
        go to YouTube and look this up:

        ”My story” by Robin Temple (copy and paste it just as it is)

        This is a horrifying story of what the VA did to this veteran. I want to warn others It has some shock value. It is very sad that this happened to one of us and I do not know if anything was done to help her. It is a very sad story.

      2. Holy SH!T that is malpractice by many in the VA on a massive scale! That is just incredible, but we know that is not at all uncommon to get the kind of brush-off she got several times. I wish she would do more follow up videos because that is exactly what I was thinking about when I commented about them. Is she still living in a camper 2 years later? Is she getting any better treatment? Who in Congress did she contact to get out? Has she contacted any since then? Has the VA responded since then? Why is it so many politicians think campus rape is such an epidemic, yet they ignore this?

        Finally, I shudder when I think that there likely are stories out there that are worse than this.

  20. Can anyone give me any advice ? I don’t know what to do I am at my wits end ,I have posted on here before mainly about being ripped away from my pain Meds I was on for many many years & very very high doses in all about 25 pills a day. and 200mgs of testosterone every other week,When I tell you I have been black listed it am not making this up,the VA wants nothing to do with me and civillian Dr told me go back to VA I have had full blood work done by VA who has not told me anything same with civillian since I got sick at the VA CBOC last year I have had a myriad of things happening I have screaming in my head this is not tinnitus lack concentration forgetfulness vision problems tremors and swallowing problems,I get absolutely no sleep I count the trains all night I live about 2 or 3 miles from tracks ,and this is coupled with my spinal problems ,Like I said I am at the end of my rope just want this screaming in my head to go away Damn Drs won’t tell me anything. I know there is something they are not telling me ..Thanks for letting me vent

    1. Mr. Bradshaw, I am sorry you are not feeling well. I would suggest that if you are able to have a family member gather your medical records for you at the VA and your civilian doctor, then they can help you formulate the best plan that would suit your needs. Venting is always good. It is a shame that the way veterans feel have to be expressed on a blog, which is indicative of a bigger problem that the government has made a promise to take care of “him”. I the “him and his cronies” were left out of the OIG reports. hope you feel better, stay strong and positive. We all have your support.” One team One Fight”

    2. I believe some pain medications will affect your hearing, to the point of becoming totally deaf. I believe others will cause Tinnitus…the loud ringing in your ears. I’ve always had ringing in my ears since serving in the military, but it became much worse after my surgery last year, and the pain meds I was on. Do some research on the net about pain medications affecting hearing. Talk to the VA about an audiology appointment. Depending on your service connected rating, they can provide you hearing aids, some that are designed to mask the ringing and help you hear better at the same time. I know this doesn’t help you being cut off of pain meds, but it should help with the ringing. As for your pain meds, since you have been on them for so long, the VA clearly has documentation on why you need them. Contact your Congressman, explain the VA has medical records showing you require those medications, but they have since cut them off completely, and you need the Congressman’s help in contacting the VA to get an appointment on getting prescriptions that you need. It may take awhile, and you may have to put things in writing, but it should help. Also, immediately ask for a copy of your medial records. Once you get a copy, you should have the evidence you need to show the VA once knew you needed those medications. Get a copy before they are altered or dissappear.

  21. This has nothing to do with this “story”, or maybe it does. On the website,
    truth and
    Egypt has filed a law suit against President Obama in the World Court, claiming “Crimes against Humanity!”
    It would seem, if this is true, we may now see “JUSTICE FOR ALL!”
    Also, if this ‘suit’ is true, could this ‘suit’ be the result of what the President has done concerning his international affairs?
    Just wondering!!!!!
    Lastly, HOW will the VA doctors decide who gets ‘treatment’ concerning veterans hepatitis C treatment?

  22. Cirrhosis
    by Alayne Ronnenberg, ScD

    comment icon
    Be first to comment

    Currently 3/5 Stars.


    Diagnosis of Cirrhosis
    In his own words: living with cirrhosis
    Reducing Your Risk of Cirrhosis
    Resource Guide for Cirrhosis
    Risk Factors for Cirrhosis
    Screening for Cirrhosis
    Symptoms of Cirrhosis
    Talking to Your Doctor About Cirrhosis
    Treatments for Cirrhosis

    The early stages of cirrhosis often produce no symptoms. As scar tissue replaces healthy cells, the liver begins to fail, and symptoms may become evident. The severity of symptoms depends on the extent of liver damage.

    Because the liver is crucial for so many metabolic activities, cirrhosis impacts a wide range of the body’s functions, including nutrient and hormone metabolism, blood clotting, and processing of ammonia and other toxic wastes. Many of the symptoms of cirrhosis are directly related to disruption of these functions. However, most of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it is important to consult with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, particularly if you have risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing cirrhosis.

    Early symptoms of cirrhosis include:

    Fatigue and weakness (related to anemia and altered nutrient metabolism)
    Poor appetite
    Weight loss
    In men:
    Reduced testicle size
    Enlarged, tender breasts
    Loss of interest in sex—due to altered liver metabolism of sex hormones
    Small, red spider-like blood vessels under the skin—caused by increased pressure in the tiny blood vessels due to liver congestion
    Increased sensitivity to drugs—due to reduced ability of the liver to inactivate them

    Symptoms become more pronounced as cirrhosis progresses. In addition, complications may produce other, potentially life-threatening symptoms of the disease.

    Later symptoms, some of which are due to complications, include:

    Reddened or blotchy palms
    Loss of body hair
    Sleep disturbances
    Insulin resistance
    Fever and other signs of infection—due to altered immune function
    Pale or clay-colored stools—caused by a reduction in excreted bile pigments
    Frequent nosebleeds, skin bruising, or bleeding gums—resulting from decreased liver synthesis of clotting factors
    Ascites —water retention and swelling abdomen caused by obstructed blood flow through the liver and reduced synthesis of the protein albumin
    Bacterial peritonitis—infection of ascites causing abdominal pain and fever
    Itching—caused by deposition of bile products in the skin
    Jaundice —yellowing of the skin or eyes due to build-up of bile pigments (bilirubin)
    Vomiting blood—due to swollen veins in the esophagus that burst
    Encephalopathy and coma—mental changes, including forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, confusion, and agitation, caused by the build-up of ammonia in the blood
    Decreased urine output and dark urine—caused by kidney dysfunction or failure
    Liver cancer

  23. here is they way i see it , i had hep c for 40 tears they VA said i was a o beast malingerer i was making up being sick oh yea and i was not being truthful . now I have stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver and other problems . and it never ends as far as the bums rush goes

  24. I agree with previous comments. Hold VA accountable, and the rest of the govt from the top on down. My personal view is that failure to use the funds for what they are intended should be a federal crime. Especially mis-appropriation of funds. If people tried that in the private sector, they would go to prison for a very long time. Why aren’t politicians and public representatives held to the same standard? Everything is a double standard, doesn’t matter if it’s the military or the rest of it.

  25. Ethics and medicine is key in this situation.

    The only thing I would recommend would be that good old fashion “terms and agreement”. Now, that a lot of problems have been uncovered, you now can really hold these people accountable on their word alone. Example, let’s say Congress appropriates everything VA wants, with those appropriation of funds is their guaranteed departure if any failure to execute the use of those funds. No ifs, ands or buts. Sign here Mr. Secretary _____________


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