ATLANTA, Ga. - A Navy veteran in need of a life-saving transplant says she found out 24 hours before she was supposed to begin treatment, that the VA won’t cover the $350,000 procedure in Georgia.
Instead, Tammy Baggett, of Winder, said she was told that she would have to travel to a Department of Veteran’s Affairs facility in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I have no trust whatsoever in the VA health care system,” said Tammy Baggett, who lives in Winder, Georgia, “We were supposed to start tomorrow with a bone marrow transplant.” Her brother is a match, for the transplant.
Baggett says she was informed Monday, that she would not be covered by the VA at Emory. She says the VA told her to instead travel to one of its facilities in Nashville to get the transplant. Baggett has acute myeloid leukemia, and needs the transplant to survive.
Her friends have setup a GoFundMe account to help her "get back to the business of being a mom." So far, 38 people have raised $3,485 for her in a single day, the page says.
“I am from Georgia , I want to stay in Georgia, I need to stay in Georgia and I need a bone marrow transplant to live,” Baggett says. Baggett is a single mother, and says she is concerned about leaving her son during the three-month duration, it might take.
In August, a bill was signed into law, allowing veterans to seek treatment from private facilities if the VA can’t offer services within 40 miles of a veterans’ location. It is not clear, at this point, if this would also cover transplant services.
“Every day that goes by is jeopardizing my life,” Baggett said.
“The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 was signed into law on August 7, 2014, and sets a 90-day deadline for the Department of Veterans Affairs to start the Veterans Choice program included in the law. The Veterans Choice Program is focused on the provision of health care outside the VA system, and will occur in early November of this year.
The Department’s focus and priority is on timely and effective implementation of this highly complex piece of legislation. As this process continues to move forward, VA will work with other Departments, Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and other stakeholders to ensure that provisions are implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Veterans who were enrolled in VA health care as of Aug. 1, 2014 or are eligible combat Veterans and meet certain other criteria regarding distance or wait times will be eligible for the Choice program,” said James Hutton, the director of media relations for the Department of Veterans Affairs in an email.