Docket ID: VA-2015-VHA-0024
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
We know that not every person who has served in the military is actually eligible for health care based on income and assets–in addition to their non-service connected health status and/or rating. One reform in the works is the elimination of the net worth assets rule that has been used to deny care. (Annual “Means” income reporting, formerly done on paper, is now being done by computer matching with the IRS and Social Security. LINK)
The asset part of this process is/was particularly cruel. Veterans had to list the value their homes, cars, land, retirement accounts etc…What the heck should ownership of a motorcycle have to do with veterans’ rights to access healthcare, we collectively fumed? As one frustrated commenter on the whole asset-based concept lashed out on Regulations.gov:
I think this is bullsh*t! No one was worried about the net worth of these individuals when they volunteered to enlist in the service. Just because they served their time/retired & went on to a Higher paying career, does not mean they don’t deserve equal benefits. All veterans served their time, spent countless number of Months (even years) away from family, the same thing was expected from all of them. What they did or how they handled things when they got home, should have nothing to do with the benefits the deserve!
The VA admitted that “the burden on veterans to supply asset information to VA on an annual basis was considerable” and that about 135,000 ineligible veterans will be able to enroll based on the change.
Priority rates determine co-pays for medications, in-patient and out-patient care and extended care. See the 2016 Co-pay Fact sheet here: (LINK) Medication co-pays are listed here (LINK). This meds flyer lists co-pay exemptions and important billing information if you have private insurance as well (LINK). The income threshold limits for free care, even geographically adjusted by region, are ungenerous (LINK or LINK). Because only a small percentage of veterans actually get rated with a service-connected condition (13-15% if I recall correctly), it’s important to eliminate all income and asset tests because they are unrealistic and discriminatory. Facing dangers in-service, distinctions based on money or possessions are irrelevant–and so it should be post-service. VA healthcare was never meant to be a charity and operating it as such has led to widespread abuses. Enough already.
Because veterans are more likely to need long term VA care, and some of the new extended care facilities look very nice, we’ll have to take a look at how the VA looks at a veterans assets, his/her estate, and how survivors are protected–if they are–another time.