Veterans Hotline: Veterans and health care reform |

Veterans Hotline: Veterans and health care reform

Ed Wilkinson

Many veterans have questions about the new health care reform law.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) offers information about the law and its impact on veterans.

The agency addresses only the most pressing questions that have been raised. The VHA will provide additional information about the new law as it is developed.

Nothing in the new law changes anything about VA health care.

The law contains many complex provisions, including many reforms to the practices of the health insurance industry, but nothing in the new law changes anything about the veterans health care program.

Enrolled veterans may still rely on VHA for health care in the same manner as before the law.

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Beginning in 2014, everyone will be required to have health care coverage.

The coverage must meet a minimum standard so that everyone will be able to have a minimum level of care.

Congress wrote into the law a provision that says the veterans health care program, administered by VHA, meets the standard for health care coverage.

Enrolled Veterans do not have to purchase additional coverage because the veterans health care program meets the standard under the law.

Veterans enrolled in the VA health care program do not need to obtain additional health care coverage, either.

Veterans may continue to purchase additional coverage if they wish, but the law does not require them to do so.

VA Department freezes

copayment increases

As previously announced Jan. 7, the Department of Veterans Affairs froze prescription copayment increases for six months. Veterans who generally have higher income and no service-connected disabilities, referred to as priority groups 7 and 8 veterans, will now pay an additional $1 for each 30-day supply of outpatient medications.

Taking effect July 1, the increase to $9 from $8 is the first change in the VA's medication copay since January 2006.

This change does not impact veterans in priority groups 2 through 6, who will continue to pay $8 for each 30-day supply of medications for their non-service connected conditions unless otherwise exempted.

These veterans will also continue to have their out-of-pocket expenses for VA outpatient medications capped at $960 per calendar year.

Veterans who have an injury or illness connected with their military service resulting in a disability rated 50 percent or greater-who are known as priority group 1 veteran, are exempt from copay.

The VA generally sets its outpatient medication copay rate based upon a regulation that ties the rate to the Medical Consumer Price Index for prescription drugs.

Honor Flight taking

off in October

Another Honor Flight is being arranged for Oct. 5 and 6. Anyone interested in going can find applications in my office.

Craig Telehealth Clinic coming to Craig

The Craig Community Telehealth Clinic offers U.S. veterans state-of-the-art technology as well as onsite nursing support and remote practitioner availability. The goal is to provide an extensive array of healthcare services to veterans in a setting that is both accessible and professional. To appropriately plan and coordinate your visit, access to the clinic is by appointment only. The clinic cannot handle emergency needs. Flu shot walk-ins are still on-going for veterans currently enrolled in the VAMC Healthcare system. Questions? Call 824-6721.

Tele-psych services now available

Veterans can now get tele-pysch services at the Craig VA Telehealth clinic. All they need to do is call (970) 263-2824 to set up a follow-up appointment for their mental health visit to be done there. If there are any questions, contact Jayne Scribner at VAMC Grand Junction via phone or email.

Her email address is

For information on these programs and/or other veterans' benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County VSO office at 480 Barclay St. (west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot).

Call 970-824-3246 or use the fax 970-824-7108. Our e-mail address is The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment only.

Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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