Group 8 vets invited back to VA

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Group 8 vets invited back to VA

The VA health-care system has lifted its six-year ban on new enrollments of Priority Group 8 veterans. This decision qualifies about 266,000 more veterans – middle-income without service-connected health conditions – for entry into the system. The first 3,900 of these veterans were notified June 15 by mail that recent enrollment applications had been approved, said Philip Matkovsky, a senior official at the Veterans Health Administration.

Group 8 veterans using VA health care pay $15 per outpatient visit and slightly more for specialty care. Inpatient fees are a bit more complicated but also modest. A popular feature is that prescription drugs are discounted, usually $8 for a 30‑day supply.

VHA is sending letters and application forms to 420,000 veterans rejected for enrollment since Jan. 18, 2003, when the Bush administration imposed a ban on new Group 8 enrollments. The letters will encourage them to re-apply.

The Bush administration had feared that a wartime VA health-care system couldn’t accept more Group 8 patients without affecting access to care for higher-priority veterans – those who are poor or have service-related disabilities.

On an initiative from Rep. Chet Edwards, D‑Texas, Congress added $350 million to the VA budget for fiscal 2009 and ordered the department to create, in effect, a new sub-category of Group 8 veterans: those with incomes “10 percent or less” above the income ceilings for Group 8 veterans.

The VA health-care system is now open to Group 8 veterans with 2008 incomes below a new national means test threshold of $32,342 (without dependents) and $38,812 for one dependent. The ceiling is $45,478 for four dependents and climbs by $2,222 for each additional dependent.

Group 8 veterans also can enroll if incomes fall below a geographic means test threshold for more costly areas of the country. For example, a veteran in San Francisco making less than $69,685 in 2008 (with no dependents) could still qualify for VA care. The same veteran, but with four dependents, could have earned up to $107,470 and still enroll. For Washington, D.C., new income ceilings are $47,335 for vets with no dependents, $54,120 with one dependent and $73,040 for four dependents.

“You can see how these geographic thresholds adjust for the specific set of circumstances, depending on where veterans live,” Matkovsky said. A veteran can use the online calculator at VA’s Web site to determine if last year’s income was low enough to qualify for care.

Veterans need not rush to apply for enrollment, because no one with qualifying income levels will be turned away. The 266,000 vets expected to gain access is merely an estimate and does not represent any sort of cap on new Group 8 enrollees.
For convenience, veterans who applied for enrollment on or after Jan. 1 this year –  and were rejected – will not have to re-apply. VA will reconsider their applications automatically and enroll them if they qualify. Those denied enrollment before Jan. 1 will have to re-apply because VA needs to see their full incomes for 2008.

Once veterans are enrolled in VA health care, no further income checks occur. They will not lose access to care if their annual incomes rise.

The Obama administration plans to continue to raise income thresholds for Group 8 veterans, in increments of 5 or 10 percent through 2013, enough to allow 284,000 more of these veterans into the system. But VA officials have promised to monitor closely any adverse impact on access to care for higher-priority veterans. The potential pool of Group 8 veterans could total 22 million.

“The thing we don’t want to do is open it up in a way that compromises our ability to provide timely care and quality care,” Matkovsky said.

More information on Group 8 enrollment is available online at www.va.gov/healtheligibility or by calling (877) 222-VETS (8387).

Tom Philpott, a former Coast Guardsman, has written about veterans and military personnel issues for more than 30 years.

 

AB9WGJohn

August 15, 2011 - 3:01pm

My ship, USS Brush DD745, was in Vietnam several times from 1964 through 1967. Duty included gun fire support activities in close to shore Vietnamese waters including "Brown Water areas" affected by Agent Orange sprayings. Does anyone have any information as to how to get our ship on the official approved list for claims.

fedupvet

March 17, 2011 - 2:59pm

I agree, the VA will lie to you. I filed a claim in August 2001. I am still dealing with the VA. They told me they couldnt find records. Then after I filed an appeal, then I was told by the VA by mail, that I did not show any signs of kidney disease at my enlistment and they even had by blood pressure readings. Hello, I was only 19, I guess I didn't show any signs of kidney disease. Every time I would file a claim or an appeal I would be notified by mail that my appeal could take up to 10 years. They do not want to take care of you. I am sorry but its true they lie. If you get them in a corner then they will tell you that a certain form was never mailed to them so they will reset your filing time. I have contacted my Congressman, he did nothing. My VA doctor after viewing my civilian medical records call me to go in for a Agent Orange exam. I did and was told by the Agent Orange Doctor after the exam I had accute exposure but it was not related to my medical conditions. I give up !

guardfar41

February 18, 2011 - 9:31am

As a veteran, you would think an ID would be issused to identify you as a Vet. instead of having to carry around a DD 214.

HarleyRider55

May 7, 2011 - 1:48pm

I agree we need a ID card. Even though we are "Group 8" they can surely find a way to issue us a card that differentiates us from those they deem eligable for medical attention. Lots of restaurants, stores, etc are now giving discounts to vets, Lowes wants a picture ID for a veteran's 10% discount. My son is stationed at Ft Bragg, with an ID card I wouldn't have to go thru the screening line to visit. Today I sent a fax to to one of the congressmen on the House Committee of Veteran Affairs asking for them to consider issuing us one. Maybe if enough of us write/fax them they'll consider it. Google that committee to find the information.

jakers487

January 17, 2011 - 9:31am

I think they lied tome when i enlisted 1968. They said I would never lose my venerans benifits. I have been trying to get medical benefits for over two years. they tell me my pension is too much money to get anything. Thanks VA.

profrlklein

January 6, 2011 - 3:54pm

My recommendation to all veterans is not believe any of the propaganda from the Dept of Veterans Affairs. The VA blatantly lies to us (veterans) and to those who purport to help up. A prime example: The VA has continously and blatantly lied to me about my disability claim for over 454 days (15 months). In fact they have even lied to my Senators and Congressman, who did nothing but parrot back the VA lies. Two of the VA's major lies were: (1) conveniently missing medical records one month, miraculously found the next, but conveniently missing a different set of medical records; and (2) promising me and my Congressman that my claim would be expedited since they had everything they needed, and the very next day they tell me that more information is needed on something that was reportedly adjudicated. Lesson Learned: Never believe the VA, they will lie to you.

lake989

November 11, 2010 - 11:54am

I was drafted in 1969 and went into the Marines. Lucky to get orders cut and not serve in Vietnam. But I got pinned for my corporal stripes, sprayed some MJ fields the Gunny found on base that burned my skin. Several other "things" and the VA gave me 2 SC problems and O Comp. Got my VA permanent SC (Purple and White Card) and stayed in VA hospital a couple times with Meds before 1982. Moved from area and never heard you would be dropped if you did not sign up again in early 1990s. Signed up at age 64 (2009) and was told I was "now" a Group 8 with NO Service Connected rating for anything. Today I have a total hip replacement thanks to pinning as a corporal....complaint in my Medical Records. Thought I had a good chance to get some medical care so doubt very few will see help in Group 8. Scrapbook full of medical records and nowhere to go. I even had a VA Doc letter recommending disability in 1981. But many worse off than I. Good Luck

skbj94

October 17, 2010 - 10:20pm

Hi. I just joined the Legion .I have a question about the VA medical .I was turned down about two years ago. My older brother just signed up and got accepted and his card is on the way .We both where in the Army during Vietnam but didn't go to Vietnam..So why did he get accepted and i did not. Can you tell me what if anything I can do to get a medical card. Thanks for your time Scott K Abbott.. PS i just found this what is Group 8 ?????????

kbvt3

April 17, 2010 - 3:58pm

I had read about that the Group 8 veterans were now eligible again to receive VA healthcare. I encouraged my brother to enroll. He's been laid off from his previous jobs for several months. Last week he received a letter of denial. The letter said no Group 8 veterans were being accepted. Was this a short lived policy from Obama, a change made with Obamacare, or a mistake? Where do I find an answer to my question?

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