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Income limits eased for Vets Dept.'s health care program
July 9, 2009
For those of us who seemingly made an exorbitant amount of cash, no health care was available for us from the Department of Veterans Affairs. That was the edict in 2003.
Now, those of us not in the system can enroll and join the 8 million veterans in the VA health care system. Hurray! We can now gain access to the VA's award-winning medical centers and clinics across the country. The change will affect some 266,000 veterans.
"This incremental approach to expanding enrollment ensures that access to VA health care for a greater number of beneficiaries does not sacrifice timely access or quality medical care for those veterans already enrolled in VA's health care system," Dr. Gerald Cross, VA's Acting Under Secretary for Health, said. "Over the next four years, we hope to provide enrollment to more than 500,000 veterans."
Under a new regulation effective June 15, 2009, VA will enroll veterans whose income exceeds current means-tested thresholds by up to 10 percent. These veterans were excluded from VA health care enrollment when income limits were imposed in 2003 on veterans with no service-connected disabilities or other special eligibility for care. There is no income limit for Veterans with compensable service-connected disabilities or for veterans being seen for their service-connected disabilities.
Veterans who have applied for VA health care but were rejected due to income at any point in 2009 will have their applications reconsidered under the new income threshold formula. Those who applied before 2009, but were rejected due to income, must reapply. VA will contact these veterans through a direct-mail campaign, veterans service organizations and a national and regional marketing campaign.
Information about enrollment and an income and assets calculator are available at www.va.gov/healtheligibility. The calculator provides a format in which veterans enter their household income, number of dependents, and zip codes to see if they may qualify for VA health care enrollment.
In addition to applying online, Veterans may also contact VA's Health Benefits Service Center at 877-222-VETS (877-222-8387). Each VA medical center across the country has an enrollment coordinator available to provide Veterans with enrollment and eligibility information.
For the untold numbers of Veterans who complained -- and rightfully so -- about this procedure, it's good to see that the complaints finally bore fruit.
It always seemed unfair to me that the bureaucrats would come up with a plan to eliminate certain Veterans from the program to hold down costs. Instead of congratulating veterans who were successful in earning more dollars, they were turned away like unwelcome visitors. Patience.
USO benefit: A benefit concert for the USO is planned for July 25 at Quaker Steak and Lube in Sheffield. Featured performers are Darryl Worley, Lawless and Derrick and Derrick. The three-piece band is donating its time to raise funds for the USO of Northern Ohio. Ken Milenovic, a USO board member, tells me that the USO Care Package Facility in Canton is one of the largest in the nation, boasting more than 12,000 care packages sent annually. And with the Ohio National Guard deploying at World War I levels, USO volunteers work very hard to get the packages out.
"We invite you to attend this concert, either at 4 p.m. when the music starts, 7:30 p.m. when the headliner starts, or anywhere in between," he said.
Milenovic added that individuals can purchase tickets at www.bikeforamerica.org, or donate tickets and they will be given to military families. Tickets can also be purchased by phone, fax or mail at www.usocleveland.org. Call Milenovic at 216-524-3908.
Veterans Resource Fair: The third annual Veterans Resource Fair will be July 29 at the Cuyahoga Community College Metro campus gym, 2900 Community College Avenue in Cleveland. Sponsors are radio stations WGAR and WMMS.
Purpose of the fair is to connect Veterans, reservists and their families to educational, health care, benefits, and community service providers in Northeast Ohio.
Free health screenings, food and refreshments, raffle and music will be available. The fair is free and open to all veterans, family and Tri-C students. Free parking is available in Lots 5 and 6 off East 31st Street and Woodland Avenue.
Call 216-987-4938 for more information.
Send news: News items about activities at your post and auxiliary are welcome. Tell us about the election of new officers, veterans of the year honors, awards, special dinners, community involvement projects and other food functions. Send your material to Ron Seman, 5811 Renwood Drive, Parma 44129, or e-mail: SemanRJ@aol.com. Thanks, and God bless our troops.
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