The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a plan to close several hospitals within the VA Health Care System, open new medical centers, and consolidate where veterans get care. This plan includes closing several facilities in Massachusetts — one of the few states where the VA offers care for a deadly cancer called mesothelioma that affects veterans in higher numbers.
VA Consolidation Plan May Close Hospitals and Clinics
In March 2022, news broke that the VA was considering a new plan that would greatly impact the health care of U.S. veterans across the country. The proposed plan would modernize the VA Health Care System.
As part of the plan, several VA medical centers would close or scale back their services. The federal government would construct new VA medical centers and facilities, and in some cases, replace the old ones.
Several facilities that could be closed are located in Massachusetts. While the VA West Roxbury Campus in Massachusetts — which treats veterans with mesothelioma — is not currently scheduled to close as part of this plan, veterans getting care from other Massachusetts VA clinics could be affected.
The Mesothelioma Veterans Center helps veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma access top health care and options to cover medical expenses no matter where they are. Call (877) 450-8973 or chat with our trained veterans support team now to start the process.
Which VA Facilities Would Close Under the Plan?
The plan would close these Massachusetts facilities:
- Bedford VA Medical Center
- Gloucester VA Clinic
- Lynn VA Clinic
- Northampton VA Medical Center
- Quincy VA Clinic
Further, the Boston Globe notes that many care options offered at Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center would be moved to the West Roxbury VA Medical Center. This move includes “high-complexity specialty work” and outpatient surgeries.
In closing these clinics and medical centers, the VA will provide new ways for veterans to get medical care. For example, services currently offered at the Gloucester and Lynn clinics would be combined at a new clinic to be built in Salem.
Why Was This Plan Proposed?
The VA has several reasons it believes the new care plan will help veterans. Learn about each below.
1. Older Facilities May Affect Care Quality
Many of the medical centers that are scheduled to close under the plan have been in use for decades. The Bedford VA Medical Center was built in 1928, and its layout requires veterans to go from building to building to get care.
Further, the Jamaica Plain Medical Center was built in 1952 — a time when asbestos was widely used to construct buildings.
The VA is having trouble keeping this center’s infrastructure maintained due to its age, which is why care services could be scaled back there.
2. Decreasing Veteran Populations
The veteran population in Massachusetts is on a steady decline, the VA notes. Currently there are nearly 290,000 veterans in the state. However, by the 2040s, this number is expected to drop to just 120,000 (less than half of the current population).
Because of this, the VA believes that closing older facilities, building a few new ones, and condensing where veterans receive care will be helpful moving forward – but not everyone agrees.
VA Proposal Met With Criticism
The VA’s announcement was met with a lot of controversy. According to the Boston Globe, the VA faced criticism for not hearing the needs and concerns of veterans before the report went public.
“If we do this wrong, it could be very bad. But if we do this right and have involvement from the governor’s office, the Legislature, and the different agencies, this could be a significant development to serve vets for the next 50 years.”
— Coleman Nee, Marine Corps veteran and former Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans' Services
United States senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and Massachusetts state senator John Velis issued statements voicing their concerns about the plan.
“Veterans deserve quality health care at VA facilities in their communities, and I’m deeply concerned that the VA has not been thoroughly engaging and communicating with veterans in Massachusetts about decisions impacting their health and their families.”
— Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator
Velis, a U.S. Army veteran, described the plan as “unconscionable” according to news outlet WBUR and feared consolidating the number of facilities would give veterans less access to public care. Velis vowed to “do everything in my power to prevent this closure."
Massachusetts VA Hospitals Remain Open — For Now
At this time, it’s too early to tell whether the plans proposed by the VA will move forward without any changes. The Boston Globe noted that it could take over a year before a final decision is made.
Further, it’s not known at this time how the plan would impact the care provided to veterans with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Hopefully, the overhaul wouldn’t be too disruptive, but there simply isn’t a clear-cut answer at this time.
Still, major players, including veterans, veterans advocates, and U.S. senators, view the plan with skepticism and are voicing their concerns.
The Mesothelioma Veterans Center will continue to monitor the situation and publish updates. Our team is proud to help veterans get access to VA benefits, pursue legal compensation and ensure vets receive the high-quality care possible.
Call (877) 450-8973 right now to get started now.