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PACT Act drives 30 percent increase in VA health care enrollment

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced Friday that the PACT Act has increased enrollment in its health care system by 30 percent in the last year.

The department announced that over the last 365 days more than 401,000 veterans have been enrolled in the VA health care system. In its first year, the newly expanded program saw 340,000 veterans have PACT Act-related claims approved.

“This is the most yearly enrollees in at least the past five years at VS, and nearly a 50 percent increase over pandemic-level enrollment in 2020,” the release said.

The PACT Act, signed into law by President Biden in 2022, aimed to deliver the biggest expansion of veterans benefits in decades. The act meant to expand the benefits for former service members who were exposed to toxins during war and suffer illnesses as a result.

In the first year after it was signed into law, more than 4.1 million toxic exposure screenings had been given, but the Biden administration also dealt with stressed resources and delays in getting aid into the hands of veterans.

The VA’s release Friday said Texas had the most enrollees in its health care system with 41,287 people signing up to receive benefits. California saw 33,468 and Florida followed with 32,712 enrollees.

The department said it has conducted “the most aggressive outreach campaign in its history” by hosting events, running multi-million-dollar advertisements and using public service announcements to reach veterans who can have access to health care.

“We want every eligible Veteran to enroll in VA health care for one simple reason: Veterans who come to VA are proven to have better health outcomes – and pay less – than Veterans who don’t,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement.

The VA’s release said about 693,000 veterans have had their priority groups upgraded, which means they are now paying lower copays since the PACT Act was passed.

McDonough said the VA’s outreach has “led more Veterans to enroll in VA care than during any year in at least a decade, and we’re not slowing down now.”

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