VA Healthcare for Mesothelioma

If you are a veteran with mesothelioma, you may be able to get free or affordable care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA healthcare system has partnered with some of the best mesothelioma surgeons in the country to treat patients with this cancer. Learn how you can access top mesothelioma doctors and treatments by filing for VA healthcare benefits.

Legally Reviewed and Fact-Checked By: Christopher R. Guinn

Using VA Healthcare for Mesothelioma Treatment

A World War II and Korean War veteran smiling

The VA healthcare 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 healthcare benefits.

Medical services provided by the VA include:

The Mesothelioma Hope team — made up of fellow U.S. veterans, VA-accredited claims agents, and trusted Patient Advocates — can help you pursue VA healthcare benefits and financial compensation.

Learn more in our Free Veterans Compensation Guide, which you can download right now.

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VA Healthcare Eligibility Requirements

Your VA healthcare 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 healthcare. 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 Healthcare Priority Groups

After applying for VA healthcare, 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

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 healthcare 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

Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, which works in tandem with the Baylor College of Medicine, established its mesothelioma program in 2019.

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

Looking to access VA healthcare services from one of these facilities? Connect with our caring Patient Advocates who can help you get started.

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How to Access Local VA Healthcare

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, which replaced the similar Veterans Choice Program (VCP) in 2019.

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 Healthcare Benefits

You can apply for VA healthcare 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 healthcare benefits:

  1. VA Form 10-10EZ (the application)
  2. Your latest tax return
  3. Insurance card information
  4. Social Security numbers for you, your spouse, and your qualified dependents
  5. 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 healthcare and other benefits. Download your Free Veterans Compensation Guide right now to learn more.

Disclaimer

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 Healthcare for Mesothelioma FAQs

Do I need VA healthcare to access other mesothelioma veterans benefits?

No — VA healthcare is totally optional. You can still see your primary care providers with private insurance and access other VA benefits like disability compensation.

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.

Is there an income limit on VA healthcare?

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 healthcare for mesothelioma?

Yes. These programs, along with others such as TRICARE, often work together.

You can also have both private health insurance and VA healthcare coverage.

You can learn more about how VA healthcare works with other insurance plans by working with a veterans representative. These individuals are trained by the VA to help veterans pursue medical benefits. Veterans representatives can be found at your local veterans service organization.

Mesothelioma Hope also has trained veterans representatives on staff to assist you. Call us at (866) 608-8933 to get started.

Reviewed by:Christopher R. Guinn

Shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy & U.S. Air Force Veteran

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Attorney Chris Guinn is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy. Since he joined the firm in 2004, Chris has dedicated his practice to representing mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease victims and has recovered millions of dollars on their behalf.

  • Practicing Attorney Since 2004
  • Worked on 300+ Asbestos Cases
  • Veteran of the U.S. Air Force
Written by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 14 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

11 References
  1. Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (n.d.). General Surgery Residency. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.brighamandwomens.org/surgery/for-medical-professionals/general-surgery-residency

  2. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. (2019, November). Mesothelioma Program at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.curemeso.org/get-involved/attend-conferences-and-events/meet-the-mesothelioma-experts-podcast-broadcast-series/mesothelioma-program-at-veterans-affairs-medical-center-in-houston-texas/

  3. Pacific Mesothelioma Center (Director). (n.d). Dr. Robert B. Cameron: Treating Mesothelioma as a Chronic Disease [Video file]. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNBCXUkPUlQ

  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). VA Boston health care. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/boston-health-care/

  5. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 09). Community Care. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/veterans/General_Care.asp

  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 14). Eligibility for VA health care. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility/

  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). How to apply for VA health care. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/

  8. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System: Mesothelioma Cancer Treatment. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/greater-los-angeles-health-care/

  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). VA health care and other insurance. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/va-health-care-and-other-insurance/

  10. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). VA health care copay rates. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/health-care/copay-rates/

  11. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 14). VA priority groups. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility/priority-groups/

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