Senate bill would expand VA eligibility

Senate bill would expand VA eligibility

In its written testimony submitted Oct. 30 to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, The American Legion expressed support for draft legislation sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would "expand and enhance eligibility for health care and services through the Department of Veterans Affairs."

Sanders’ bill would take into account the varying income levels among counties in any given state, and also establish new statewide income thresholds, in determining veterans’ eligibility for VA health care.

The bill further stipulates that all required modifications for implementation of the new income criteria must be completed within five years of enactment.

Currently, VA applies a nationwide Geographic Means Test (GMT) to a veteran’s personal income, regardless of where he or she lives. If the income level is at or below the GMT, veterans are eligible for Priority Group 7 status; if the income is higher, they are assigned to the Priority 8 Group.

If they agree to pay the applicable co-payments, Group 7 veterans may enroll in VA health care. Group 8 veterans with non-service connected conditions whose incomes are higher than the GMT are not eligible for VA enrollment.

The American Legion supports the aim of Sanders’ bill, and is also urging Congress to enact legislation that would direct VA to automatically enroll eligible veterans into its health-care system as soon as they leave active duty in the military – supported by Resolution 75, passed at the Legion’s 95th annual convention in Houston last August.

Other Legion-backed bills pending in the Senate include:

• Rural Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Acts (S.1155 and S.1411)

• A bill that would "prohibit the use of the phrases GI Bill and Post-9/11 GI Bill to give a false impression of approval and endorsement by the Department of Veterans Affairs" (S.1211)

• Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act (S.1216)

• SCRA Enhancement and Improvement Act (bill number TBD)

• A bill that would require VA to inform veterans who file benefits claims electronically that "relevant services may be available from veterans service organizations" (S.1295)

• Servicemembers Electronic Health Records Act (S.1295)

• Mental Health Support for Veterans Families and Caregivers Act (bill number TBD)

To read the full text of any House or Senate bill, click here.

More in Legislative Center

 

JJH

January 25, 2014 - 11:05pm

All those who honorably served, especially during time of war, should be allowed to participate in the VA Health Care System. Most Veterans I know are proud to have served their country and have done so without asking for anything in return. Scars of war come in many forms, some visible and some are not. God Bless those who currently serve and those that have served to protect our nation.

Keith C

February 6, 2014 - 4:46pm

I just think it's a shame the DoD and the VA do not work together on the medical issues. Example of this is after i came back from OEF/OIF with Injuries and other medical issues, The Army gave me the boot VIA the Medical Evaluation Board stating i was no longer fit for duty. The Army gave me a 10% disability rating. When my records were turned over to the VA for Evaluation they returned with a 90% disability rating. They need to fix this system because it is severely broken. The biggest issue I also found is that when I applied for SSD I was turned down because with a 90% rating I still didn't meet the requirements of the Social Security Administrations criteria for Disability. So my only income falls on what little money i receive from the VA each month because no one will hire me with a 90% Disability rating. It's very disheartening to see those who served their country,combat or non combat,have to struggle to survive in the Civilian World.You served your country with honor but your country does not return the favor.

D Farrell

January 23, 2014 - 3:35pm

I am 60% at but they only allowed 50%. They bill my private insurance. Though I have no "CO-Pay" in the VA my premiums have gone up. My letter of benefits says my care is supposed to be at no cost to me at all. Yet an conflicting rule says they can. I found the whole system of being evaluated hard and demanding, So if anyone can easily "fake" out the comp & pension, I am impressed

Howard Strobel

November 27, 2013 - 11:32pm

I came home from the Army in '77 and joined the reserves for three years. The first time that I got sick I went to VA. Iv'e never went anywhere else since. Sometimes the care was free. Other times I had small co-pays or they billed my employer paid health insurance. It all depended on what was going on in my personal life as far as income. Last month my VA Neurologist told me that I was no longer safe to do my work anymore. I had to apply for SSD. My employer paid health insurance will run out the end of next month. I'm sure glad to have VA. The co-pays aren't that big, some times they're smaller than some insurance policies. I never really cared if they billed my health insurance when I had it. Sometimes I have trouble understanding what everyone is talking about when they say they can't get their VA health benefits.

CLCollins

November 25, 2013 - 9:51pm

I'm still trying to figure if my medical problems which now come to 6 medical conditions were the result of me being in a hot spot in W. Germany when Chernobyl blew her top.

CLCollins

November 25, 2013 - 9:44pm

ALL Veterans who served should be allowed into the VA, period.

Ron Lavallee

November 20, 2013 - 4:56pm

I served during Vietnam. I was not in-country. I just wanted a card to prove I was a veteran so I could get a discount at Lowes etc. The VA said no. I guess my service isn't even worth a lousey card!

Eldon Pittman

January 29, 2014 - 10:13pm

Use your DD 214

William Lynch

November 21, 2013 - 10:06pm

I believe if u belong to either the VFW or American Legion, or possibly other Veterans organizations(IE: DAV, VVA etc) that Lowes will accept their cards as proof of Vet status.. Good Luck Brother

Glenn C

November 11, 2013 - 10:30am

Mario, All you need to be over 30% to have com and ex privileges.

Reservist

November 3, 2013 - 9:07am

I am surprised the VA doesn't allow former Reservist or National Guard into the VA healthcare system despite having an honorable discharge. I understand the VA is underfunded but if they expanded eligibility based on honorable service only, I would think this would be an opportunity to expand services and bring income to the VA. Put them for example in a category 7 grouping along with having to make a COPAY. If this current category group (7)is having to pay a copay, then what's the big issue in allowing a former Guardsman/Reservist into the VA healthcare system? Other thoughts would be for these type of military veterans that are otherwise unqualified due to time on active duty would be to only take them at a preventive maintenance level, such as going in for a physical exam, treating the flu or a cold, or a cut, or just minor or basic medical care. AND PAYING A CO-PAY. Anything costing more such as surgery, cancer or whatever, beyond the basics, OK then, I understand. The next question is why would anyone with insurance would want to go to the VA healthcare system and want to make a co-pay to them. The answer is just that being an honorably discharged veteran (though not having enough active duty to qualify for the VA healthcare system), I would like to have that option. Expand VA healthcare to those that want it but just have them pay higher co-pays and provide the basics in physical exams, minor or limited medical treatments such as vaccines, diagnostics by a physician. I don't see how this can ruin or overburden the VA, only perhaps make them grow and give us options to use the VA. Is this really a benefit or are they making out to be a benefit? Time to change the VA healthcare requirements. Allow all whom served as Honorable discharged veterans regardless of status access to the VA healthcare system at an agreed or pre-determined level that HELPS the VA healthcare system. Not detract from it.

Michael McGregor

November 6, 2013 - 4:24pm

The National Guard comes under the care of the state that it is in, and are under the command of the state governer! therefore - unless they are activated to Active Army status,- all treatment and benefits come from the state. The VA was designed to handle federal service only.

laurence Mckenny

November 1, 2013 - 5:30pm

The VA does not pay benefits to many that qualify! I was denied for CLL cancer I believe I got fueling aircraft and spray painting. You would not know by looking at me so far but I have had Chemo and it will most likely kill me eventually. Don't put down service persons just because they don't look injured. God Bless all that served.

Dick Butler

November 1, 2013 - 10:58am

For those disabled during their service, I strongly support the Legion's good efforts to ensure adequate government funded medical and financial support. It doesn't seem reasonable, however, for all of us who served to claim such benefits, nor to feel put upon when not receiving them. As with many others I shouldered the obligation of service to country during the Vietnam era, while noting a few others bugging out to Canada or getting married ... to avoid such service. While I wasn't sent to a war zone, I would have gone if assigned, part of fulfilling duty to country. Active duty medical support, pay, and other benefits, along with recognition through promotion, and working with many great fellow soldiers were adequate compensation. Having been fortunate, along with the majority of my fellow soldiers in the 1965-1968 period, in leaving active duty without disability nor service related illness I feel no legitimate moral claim on my Country for further benefits. It was a privilege to serve my country, my fellow Americans. I believe that in this time of spiraling government outlays that will likely prove a great burden to our children, many other veterans would join with me in this belief -- that our Legion's effort should focus on ensuring those suffering from their service are appropriately cared for. The rest of us have already been compensated for our years of honorable service in many tangible and intangible ways.

Charles McFall

November 1, 2013 - 8:30am

I'm so used to the government screwing over me nothing surprizes me any more. If you give four years of your life in 1972, you don't deserve any thing if you were hurt, even if they sprayed you with something that's killing you now.

Neil Senn

October 31, 2013 - 9:31pm

I agree with Mario - Just because we didn't or couldn't stay to "retire" from the service doesn't mean we shouldn't be granted what we were promised. Better medical care and more respect for services rendered. Why should politicians get free medical care and 100% retirement pay for "working" 4 years supposedly representing citizens while veterans continue to be shoved under the bus?

CLCollins

November 25, 2013 - 9:47pm

Amen! I agree 110% and I served during the Cold War that some still contend that it was NOT a "real" war when in fact, it was and there were those who died during the Cold War that is hardly mentioned.

James P

November 1, 2013 - 10:21am

Congress sets the rules for which Veterans to care for and how much. If every Veteran would write his/her Congressman/Senator we might achieve a movement forward on this. Only if we all get on board and write/email/fax/call our elected representatives will we be able to overcome the high pressure thumbs of those 2 percenters wishing to keep the Veteran down and a non-threat to our "purchased" congressmen!!! JMHO

Glenn Chambers

November 11, 2013 - 10:08am

Your are correct but we would all have to be on the same page or things will not get done. We would all have to be in touch with each other through some source of communication then things might make a difference. I would be willing to help anyway I can to make it happen. Just say the word and lets get things going. I am disabled but my wife is still getting shafted after eleven year serviced.

Perry

October 31, 2013 - 9:24pm

What are the details of how this bill would: "Expand and enhance eligibility for health care and services through the Department of Veterans Affairs", "take into account the varying income levels among counties in any given state", "establish new statewide income thresholds, in determining veterans' eligibility", or "require modifications for implementation of the new income criteria" so that they "must be completed within five years"? If the legion is supporting the aim of the Sanders' Bill, please explain to what extent any of this would place excessive demands on the VA Health Care system that seems to be at or near capacity. How would the excessive demands, if this is a fair assessment, be dealt with? If an expected shortage of Physicians and other health care providers occurs, how will that be dealt with? Are any of these realistic concerns?

Dennis P

October 31, 2013 - 9:35pm

My wife is a veteran of Viet Nam era but she can not get VA care because they use total household income for the means testing. She gets medicaid due to medical problems and her only income is Social Security which would qualify her for VA Benefits, but when adding in my 100% disability and CRSC (total household income) she is not qualified. My disability is non taxable and does not factor in on any other benefits, why not with the VA?

Don Stickler

November 1, 2013 - 8:49am

We need to fire most of the people in Washington and start over. Stop giving money to people and country's that hate us, You can't buy true friends. Close our country off to people coming in with out proper papers, send the ones that don't have proper papers back, or put them in line to sign in the right way. STOP CUTTING VETERAN'S AND DISIABLED PEOPLE OFF AND CUTTING THEIR BENEFTS. GOVERMENT IS KILLING THE PEOPLE THAT KEPT OUT COUNTRY SAVE AND STRONG. AMERICA NEEDS TO WAKE UP AND PUT GOD BACK INTO WASHINGTON ECT. I'M A LEGION MEMBER, AMERICAN LEGION RIDER, VERERAN,AMVET MEMBER, HAM OPERATOR, ECT. I do this because I still believe in my God, Country and man kind. Goverment has cause me to loose my home ect. I need the VA. With out it, I would be dead. I'm just one amoung thousands who are in the same boat. We still have many people in this country that believe in, and love AMERICA. GOD BLESS AMERICA, AND THOSE WHO HAVE AND STAND FOR IT.

JJH

January 25, 2014 - 11:19pm

I agree, if our corrupt politicians can give hand outs to all the undocumented workers, countries who detest us, as well as our so called leaders who write their own ticket, we can take care of our Veterans who took care of us when we needed them. It time for "true Americans" to do what is right, lets take care of our own and the hell with the rest.

Michael Flynn

October 31, 2013 - 11:15pm

Unfortunately, it looks like a divorce would be financially beneficial. We need to beware of the unintended consequences of many laws.

Bob Connolly

October 31, 2013 - 8:50pm

When I enlisted in 1968 I was promised medical for life and our honored politicians reneged on that promise made to me and thousands like me.

ray riddle

November 1, 2013 - 8:03am

I was never told I would have health care after service? Only if I stayed in and retired from the military with tri care? I was told if I got injured I could recieve health care at he VA. I think some vetearns are unsure of what there benefits would be.

Doug Foster

October 31, 2013 - 8:48pm

This would be a perfect time to reinstate Blue Water Navy under coverage provided by the Agent Orange Act of 1991. If VA treated us equally and with respect much of this would not be necessary.

Tom Klein

October 31, 2013 - 8:39pm

No veteran who has served our country honorably should be denied their benifits. Especially those who qualify for the disability.

Charlie Lunt

October 31, 2013 - 8:57pm

Soooo true! Let's hope things improve.

George Bartolomeo

October 31, 2013 - 7:09pm

NO ! I know veterans who are receiving disability benefits and they are not seriosley disabled in fact don't appear disabled at all. these guys do not need any more benefits from the VA>

Wil C

November 1, 2013 - 8:09pm

You're an A hole George for making a statement like that. I 'm in pain every day working to provide for my family. I don't advertise my distress. I simply make do and ask God to help me completed my day. I would give you the benefits if I could overcome my injuries from protecting and serving

Glenn C

November 11, 2013 - 10:21am

Well Wil I sorry to say George is right, there are some that came back from IQ that was told to tell the VA you can't sleep and have bad dreams and you will get disability. I don't know how many but just in my little town and surrounding area I know of a dozen at least.

rldad1

October 31, 2013 - 8:50pm

I do not look disabled but I will trade my heart, my bones and my hearing for your healthy ones anytime. Not all disabilities are visible. Do not judge until you have walked a mile in my shoes. Besides which this is not about giving anyone disability status but about giving our vets an ability to get decent health care.

Dennis P

October 31, 2013 - 9:28pm

Amen to that. Due to Agent Orange I am 100% total disabled- diabetes, cardiomyopathy, CHF, COPD, neuropathy, hearing loss, depression. Want to switch?

Glenn C

November 11, 2013 - 10:26am

I don't think that is what George meant I think he meant faking disabilities. I am sure he knows there is disabilities you can't see.

Steve Riley

October 31, 2013 - 8:16pm

Hey George, Are you a veteran? I think not based upon your comment. How do you know what these veterans have to deal with. Many scars, disabilities, and diseases do not readily show. You might want to check your spelling before making such ignorant comments.

Paul Slavik

October 31, 2013 - 8:00pm

Very ignorant statement, how do you know if they are seriously disabled, are you a doctor and if so have you examined them? In fact why don't you tell us all how a disabled person is supposed to look. There are literally hundreds of disabilities that a person could have without showing obvious signs and symptoms.

Mario Navora

October 31, 2013 - 6:16pm

How about pushing a bill that would allow veterans receiving VA disabilities lower than 100%, to have commissary and Exchange priveleges.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Tell us what you think