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Examining Veterans' Experiences With In Vitro Fertilization Provided Under P.L. 114-223.

Mattocks KM, Marteeny V, Walker L, Kroll-Desrosiers A, Mengeling M. Examining Veterans' Experiences With In Vitro Fertilization Provided Under P.L. 114-223. Medical care. 2023 Apr 1; 61(4):192-199.

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BACKGROUND: Until recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical benefits package has expressly excluded in vitro fertilization (IVF) services for Veterans experiencing fertility problems. However, P.L. 114-223 (2016) allows VHA to provide Assisted Reproductive Technology, including IVF, to certain eligible Veterans. Little is known regarding Veterans'' experiences accessing IVF through VA Community Care contracts with IVF providers. OBJECTIVE: To examine Veterans'' experiences with IVF services provided under the auspices of P.L. 114-223. RESEARCH DESIGN: Telephone or video interviews were conducted with male and female Veterans and opposite-sex spouses of Veterans who had been approved for IVF. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using content analysis techniques. Major themes and representative quotes were derived from the analyses. RESULTS: Ninety-six Veterans and 14 spouses participated in our interviews. Six major themes arose from these interviews, including (1) the need for improved communication regarding IVF benefits, (2) the need for expanded IVF benefits, (3) the lack of a comprehensive care coordination program, (4) poor access to IVF providers in some areas of the country, (5) special services needed for Veterans with spinal cord injuries, and (6) the IVF policy may be discriminatory in nature to single and LGBTQ Veterans. CONCLUSIONS: Many Veterans with service-connected conditions related to reproductive health have taken advantage of the IVF benefit, though limitations on these benefits have prevented other Veterans from taking advantage of the IVF benefit. Further attention needs to be paid to improving communication and coordination of IVF services with ongoing VA care and ensuring special populations, including those living in rural areas and Veterans with spinal cord injuries, have access to IVF services as needed.

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