Using VA Health Care for Mesothelioma Treatment
The VA health care system is a national network of medical centers and doctors available specifically for veterans. Through this system, U.S. veterans can receive specialty care for service-connected health problems from medical experts.
Since veterans are at a high risk of mesothelioma, the VA has partnered with some of the country’s leading mesothelioma doctors to treat veterans with this cancer. Veterans can access this care by applying for VA health care benefits.
Medical services provided by the VA include:
- Chemotherapy and radiation
- Geriatric and extended care
- Mental health services
- Mesothelioma surgeries
- Regular check-ups
- VA-sponsored clinical trials
The Mesothelioma Hope team — made up of fellow U.S. veterans, VA-accredited claims agents, and trusted Patient Advocates — can help you pursue VA health care benefits and financial compensation.
Learn more in our Free Veterans Compensation Guide, which you can download right now.
VA Health Care Eligibility Requirements
Your VA health care eligibility depends on your discharge status (you don’t qualify if you were dishonorably discharged) and when you served in the military.
You may have to meet a “minimum duty” requirement if you want to access VA health care. This requirement is usually two years of full service if you joined the military after September 7, 1980, or went into active duty after October 16, 1981.
The minimum duty requirement may be waived if you served before September 7, 1980, or if you were discharged early due to a hardship or service-related disability.
VA Health Care Priority Groups
After applying for VA health care, you will be placed within a priority group, which affects how much you’ll pay for your medical care. If you have mesothelioma, you will likely be assigned to Group 1 (highest priority) because the cancer is considered a total disability by the VA.
Group 1 health care benefits may include:
- No copay for your first three urgent care visits
- No copays for in-hospital care
- No cost for medications
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Veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases are entitled to several different types of benefits from the VA to include disability benefits, health care benefits, [and] there are even survivor benefits for those with asbestos-related diseases.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of their service in the military are likely to receive a benefit of $3,500 of monthly income tax-free to the veteran.
Veterans with mesothelioma who are exposed while they were in the service are also entitled to private benefits as well, and we encourage veterans to call Mesothelioma Hope so that we can work together to help them file for VA benefits.
Where Can I Get Mesothelioma Treatment Through the VA?
The VA has three medical centers that treat veterans with mesothelioma. Learn more about each center below.
West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
For over 20 years, the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center has worked with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program to treat veterans with pleural mesothelioma.
The facility offers all standard forms of mesothelioma treatment and several newer therapies.
Notable medical treatments available at this facility include:
- Cryoablation: This technique involves using extreme cold to shrink mesothelioma tumors
- Immunotherapy: This treatment trains the immune system to target and destroy mesothelioma cells
- Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D): A surgery that removes cancerous tumors from the lung lining but does not remove the lung itself
The West Los Angeles VA Medical Center also specializes in treating sarcomatoid mesothelioma — the most aggressive mesothelioma cell type.
Dr. Robert Cameron
The head of mesothelioma surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center is Dr. Robert Cameron. As the creator of the P/D surgery, he is one of the world’s leading experts on mesothelioma treatment.
Under Dr. Cameron’s leadership, the care team at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center works to improve patient lifespans and research new, effective treatments.
“We treat mesothelioma like a chronic disease, similar to diabetes or high blood pressure. And these are both diseases that you can’t cure, but people can live for an extremely long period of time if they’re controlled.”
—Dr. Robert Cameron
We can help you pursue VA health care services right now: Call (866) 608-8933 to learn more.
VA Boston Health Care System
The VA Boston Health Care System treats pleural mesothelioma through a partnership with Brigham & Women’s Hospital, one of the top mesothelioma hospitals in the world.
Doctors at the VA Boston Health Care System can perform two types of life-extending mesothelioma surgeries: the P/D and the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), which removes cancerous tumors and the lung closest to them.
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
Mesothelioma Doctors at the DeBakey VA Medical Center
Dr. Lorraine Cornwell serves as the leader of the mesothelioma program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA and collaborates with Dr. Taylor Ripley, another leading mesothelioma doctor, to help military veterans get the care they deserve.
In addition, peritoneal mesothelioma specialist Dr. Eugene A. Choi is also available to treat veterans with mesothelioma through this program. This is very important since almost all other VA mesothelioma specialists treat pleural mesothelioma.
“Fortunately, the work we’re doing with the VA as we ramp up and start to see more and more patients with mesothelioma in Houston, has the Baylor program right across the street to support that as it grows.”
– Dr. Taylor Ripley, mesothelioma specialist
Looking to access VA health care services from one of these facilities? Connect with our caring Patient Advocates who can help you get started.
How to Access Local VA Health Care
Local VA hospitals may refer veterans who do not live near Los Angeles, Boston, or Houston to approved civilian mesothelioma cancer centers through the MISSION Act.
The VA must usually sign off on requests for local care. Once this is complete, veterans can receive treatment from a non-VA provider at no extra cost. Veterans who do not get prior approval from the VA may be charged in full.
You can get a list of approved community care providers by visiting the official VA website, va.gov.
Filing for Mesothelioma VA Health Care Benefits
You can apply for VA health care online, over the phone, or by mail. You can also bring your completed application to the VA medical center closest to you.
You’ll need the following to apply for VA health care benefits:
- VA Form 10-10EZ (the application)
- Your latest tax return
- Insurance card information
- Social Security numbers for you, your spouse, and your qualified dependents
- Medical records related to your mesothelioma diagnosis
Don’t wait to access some of the best mesothelioma doctors and cancer centers in the country. Our Patient Advocates can help you pursue VA health care and other benefits. Download your Free Veterans Compensation Guide right now to learn more.
Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Robert B. Cameron. The information on this page is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.
VA Health Care for Mesothelioma FAQs
Will the VA help pay for cancer treatment?
Yes. If you or a loved one has mesothelioma, the VA health care system helps cover many of the costs of cancer treatment by charging little to no co-pays.
Call Mesothelioma Hope at (866) 608-8933 to find out how to access VA health care and afford any other mesothelioma costs you may incur.
What if I need to travel to see a VA mesothelioma specialist?
The VA may be able to help you cover travel costs if your local care provider refers you to Dr. Cameron, Dr. Ripley, or other doctors.
However, this depends on your income and whether your mesothelioma is related to military service.
Reach out to the VA facility that made the referral to see if you can get a travel reimbursement.
Do I need VA health care to access other mesothelioma veterans benefits?
No — VA health care is totally optional. You can still see your primary care providers with private insurance and access other VA benefits like disability compensation.
Is there an income limit on VA health care?
Yes. This income limit depends on where you live and the number of dependents you have. You can find out your income limit by visiting the VA’s official website.
I already have Medicare and/or Medicaid. Can I still get VA health care for mesothelioma?
Yes. These programs, along with others such as TRICARE, often work together.
You can also have both private health insurance and VA health care coverage.
You can learn more about how VA health care works with other insurance plans by working with a veterans representative.
Mesothelioma Hope also has trained veterans representatives on staff to assist you. Call us at (866) 608-8933 to get started.