VA Health CareEfforts to Increase Sharing With DOD and the Private Sector Gao ID: T-HEHS-96-41 October 18, 1995
Health resources sharing, which involves the buying, selling, or bartering of health care services, can be helpful to both parties in the agreement and helps contain health care costs by making better use of medical resources. For example, it is often cheaper for a hospital to buy an infrequently used diagnostic test from another hospital than it is to buy the equipment and provide the service itself. Similarly, a hospital using an expensive piece of equipment only four hours a day but is staffed to operate the equipment for eight hours could make money by selling its excess capacity to other providers. This testimony discusses the status and future direction of the Veterans Affairs' (VA) health care resources sharing with the Defense Department (DOD) and the private sector. Specifically, GAO focuses on (1) the origin and the evolution of VA's sharing authority, (2) the growth in sharing agreements, and (3) challenges facing VA as it enters into more and more sharing agreements with the private sector.