The VA's New Slogan: Who Do You Think We Are Part D?

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  • 12/05/2006
I got a kick at how the VA's flak-catcher tried to sidestep the fact that nearly 40 percent of it's hostages have bought Part D coverage in addition to holding on to VA coverage.

The AP's Kevin Freking has the VA spin doctors trying to establish the difference as follows: There are also differences in the list of drugs the VA covers compared with the list of drugs a typical Medicare plan covers. Leavitt described the VA's list, or formulary, as "among the most restrictive in the marketplace."
In Medicare, slightly more than half of enrollees are in plans that cover 1,000 to 1,500 medications. Another 35 percent are in plans that cover more than 1,500 drugs, Nelligan said.
Meanwhile, the Veteran's Administration plan covers about 1,300 drugs, Valentino said.
But, he calls the number of drugs on a formulary "almost irrelevant."
He said if a plan covers the top 200 selling drugs, then it's basically covering everyone's needs. When asked if the VA covers the top drugs used by seniors, Valentino said he was confident that it does. (Mike Valentino, VA's pharmacy director.)
"They are either on our formulary or we have an equally safe and effective drug in that class on our formulary," he said.

Equally safe and effective?

Mr. Valentino should have heard the presentation by FDA's Janet Woodcock about the myth of therapeutic substitution at Windhover FDA/CMS Summit in Washington this past week.

Or he can ask some of the VA consumers who post about their experiences at the Vets forum

You can always get a letter from a Doctor explaing what you need and why and than the VA will have to get it for you. There is a risk though. I tried it a number of years ago and was threatened with losing my fee services....

to get the VA to pay, I will have to schedule umteen appointments first, before approval. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth the hassle.

I simply recieved a call from my VA doc one day, saying the VA pharmacy no longer carries the slow release Oxycontin I had been taking for sometime. It's one of the few I found that works with neurological, (hot ice pick stabs) I get & chronic pain.
His message said they were stopping the med, "imediately" & prescribing "methadone".
I refused it & was told to come in & discuss it with the Doc. (Another 300 mile trip).
I was told by the Doc The VA no longer carries it in our region. This is sort of true, I found out.
The truth is, the "VA" Pharmacy @ the Spokane VAMC told me it's on the formulary list. Meaning, they stock it, but the Doc must specifically request it & it must be approved before you recieve it.

I went through sudden withdrawal symptoms & suffered from symptoms due to MS, Fibromyalgia, Spinal disorders & the list goes on for nearly 6 months, without being treated for neurological pain. The Doc said I can take Meth or do without, because "he" wasn't going to prescribe anything but Meth.
I was eventually put back on 5 mg of Oxycontin. Three, every six hours, as needed & Oxycodone for break through pain.
The doc has since cut the Oxycodone.

I am unable to take triptians such as imitrex, etc., Demerol and morphine. I am able to take Darvocet which helps a little but the best med for me is Stadol. The VA does not carry it! I have a private dr prescribe it and I use the nasal spray. Within 5 mins the pain is gone. Unfortunately, so am I for about 5 hours.

I have not been able to work since February 2004 since I have 3-5 attacks per week. I use ice packs on the top and sides of my head and heat on my neck and it seems to work.

Let me repeat what Mr. Valentino said:

"They are either on our formulary or we have an equally safe and effective drug in that class on our formulary," he said.

And this is what the Dems want to inflict on all seniors.

But I guess 2 million VA consumers have signed up for Part D because they like paying twice for equally safe and effective drugs...

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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