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Cindy D. Caregiver

Veterans Affairs Healthcare - LVAD and Heart Transplant

My brother received his LVAD on 8/30/18 and fortunately was also approved for disability; however, we just learned that when SSDI kicks Jan 2019, he will lose Medicaid....leaving him without any insurance to continue care for LVAD and he won't be eligible for heart transplant.   This week he learned he can get VA healthcare benefits.

Has anyone navigated VA healthcard for their LVAD or for Heart Transplant? How easy/hard is it to use?  Is the care good?  He has his first VA dr visit at the end of this week because they said he had to have a primary care physician to start using VA.  We are concerned and VA may his only option, which is truly better than nothing considering meds and labs.  Sure would like to hear from anyone that uses the VA for their care.

Thank you.

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Reiss T.

I am a 100% disabled veteran and have had an LVAD - destination therapy - for over 8 years. I live in Jacksonville Florida. In my experience the VA doctors, including cardiologists, are not well informed about LVADs and I often find myself teachig class to them. There are VA medical centers that do LVADs and heart transplants (Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Louisville, KY and possibly one or two others) so the doctors and staff there would be much better informed. I rely on the VA for prescriptions, glasses, hearing aids and not much else. I see my VA primary care and cardiologists once or twice a year and it is pretty much a non-event. Because of Medicare and a good Medicare supplement program I have little or no medical expenses other than deductibles. Ninety % of my medical care is outside the VA. Most outside doctors know little or nothing about VADs as well. Hopefully your brother's VA docs are knowledgeable or are at least willing to learn. 

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Debra K.

Hi, I've had my Heartmate II since April 2016. My body is crumbling before my eyes. I have joint pain and deterioration due to osteoarthritis in my knee and shoulders. No doctor will fix me because I have an lvad. My future is suffering from horrible pain and absolutely no quality of life since I'd rather have a short time left like this, rather than a long, battery operated shitty life.

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Elizabeth S.

I don't know anything about the VA but I have a possible alternative. Medicaid has a program called Medical Assistance for Working Disabled (MAWD). If a person on disability works at a job, the income limits for Medicaid are higher. The job could be somethinf like walking a neighbor's dog, making phone calls to help out a small business or even self-employment. There is no minimum hour requirement. I perform some light administrative work from home,  for example. Less than 10 hours each month. Ask your case worker at the VAD clinic or your local Medicaid office for details. Hope this helps.

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In reply to by Elizabeth S.

Harold P.

I did some research on the MAWD and no one at our local DHHR is familiar with it.  Are you in Pennsylvania?  Maybe this is just available in your state...I did see it mentioned on the PA state website.