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Veterans groups concerned over private sector health care ads

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CHICAGO (AP) — A leading hospital system is courting military veterans with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign, raising concerns from some veterans groups that private sector marketing could weaken the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.

Ascension Health’s advertising launches Monday. It will urge vets to learn about a VA program that allows some to get federally paid medical care from local doctors. The campaign uses the tag line “Veterans have a choice in healthcare.”

St. Louis-based Ascension is using the ads to draw patients eligible for Veterans Choice, the cornerstone of the 2014 VA overhaul.

The system has an office in Illinois.

However, not all veterans groups are on board with private sector health care.

Carlos Fuentes of Veterans of Foreign Wars saidAscension’s ad campaign could lead to unexpected medical bills if veterans seek private sector care without making sure they’re eligible, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch. 

Ascension wants to see the Choice program extended beyond its expiration next year.

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