VA to outsource care for 180,000 vets with hepatitis C

PHOENIX — The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving to outsource care nationwide for up to 180,000 veterans who have hepatitis C, a serious blood and liver condition treated with expensive new drugs that are costing the government billions of dollars.

The VA has spent weeks developing a dramatic and controversial transition as patient loads have surged and funding has run out. Those efforts were not disclosed until records were released this week to The Arizona Republic.

Instructions on how to carry out the program show that the sickest veterans generally will get top priority for treatment. However, patients who have less than a year to live or who suffer "severe irreversible cognitive impairment" will not be eligible for treatment.

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