Health officials in Washington and New York say they’re working to ease the pressure on their struggling veterans and help veterans pay for their prescription drugs.
The VA, which oversees the medical care of veterans and their families, has been grappling with a shortage of prescription drugs for years.
The drug shortages have made it more difficult for the agency to process claims and provide critical care to its veterans.
The VA has struggled to recruit and retain enough doctors and nurses to handle the growth of the Veterans Affairs prescription drug backlog, and it has struggled with the costs of administering the drug benefits program.
But now, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says, it is opening up more drug dispensing to help veterans and others.
The department has also rolled out new dispensing methods to help more people get their drugs.
This is an opportunity for us to make sure that we’re able to meet the demand for these medications for our veterans, said Shinsekki, in a statement Thursday.
“We’re now opening the door to help people in need access their prescriptions through our online pharmacy system,” he said.
In the first six months of the year, the VA had a prescription drug delivery backlog of more than 6.3 million prescriptions.
That’s more than double the VA’s total prescription drug shipments during the same period last year.
The VA is taking steps to make it easier for veterans to access their prescription medication.
Shinsekeki said he is “working with the private sector to provide greater convenience to those veterans who are in need.”
To find a VA doctor in your area, click here.
To find your nearest pharmacy, click HereTo sign up for a free online prescription, click The Department of Veterans Affairs said it is working to provide more dispensing tools to help patients, and to make ordering medications more convenient.
VA officials have also rolled back the cap on dispensing benefits, from $10,000 per month to $5,000.
That cap, which expired in 2020, allowed veterans to receive benefits that were higher than the VA-approved cap of $20,000 for their first year of benefits.
The cap had previously been $25,000 a month.
VA officials have since increased the cap to $50,000, but the cap was still $25 a month in 2020.
VA Secretary Mark Esperanza said the agency was looking to make dispensing easier, too.
Esperanza also said VA is working on an online pharmacy to allow veterans and other people to pay for prescription drugs online.
On Wednesday, Shinseker announced that the VA will be launching a new online pharmacy called Prescription Solutions.
It will allow veterans to pay online for their medications, as well as for certain other benefits such as health care insurance.
The new system is similar to what VA has already done in other areas, like online pharmacy for health insurance and prescription drug benefit enrollment, he said in the statement.
He said the new system will be launched in 2018.
Since taking office in 2017, Shindeki has been pushing the VA to find ways to streamline and simplify its dispensing process, and the VA said in a recent filing that it is doing so.
The agency has been working on a pilot project that would allow veterans in some VA medical facilities to use the online pharmacy, Shinnekers office said.
The program is not yet open for use.