The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving forward toward its goal of ensuring that Native American veterans receive the benefits they should be getting. Two weeks ago it was reduced mortgage interest rates for Native Americans, native Hawaiians, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders. Now, per the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, it’s a waiver on having to pay a copay for VA health care ser-vices and urgent medical care.
Besides taking affect now, it’s retroactive: Starting last year, on Jan. 5, 2022, any eligible American Indi-an and Alaska Native Veteran who’s received care and paid a copay can go back and be reimbursed.
There are details, of course. To be eligible for exemption you need to be an American Indian or Alaska Native Veteran, provide a copy of an official tribal document showing that you meet the eligibility requirements of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and submit a Tribal Documentation Form (VA Form 10-334). That form is also known as Documentation of Indian or Urban Indian Status for Veteran Copayment Exemption.
Pay special attention to the gov-ernment’s definition of “Indian.” It involves being a first- or second- degree descendant of certain groups, and you must live in an urban center, which includes the department of Health and Human Services’ definition of an Indian population with unmet health needs.
If you’re not yet signed up for VA health care, this might be the time to do it and have that, plus the question of your copays, out of the way. In a medical emergency, you don’t want to have to think about what you’re going to do or where you’re going to go. And if you’ve paid out several copays since Jan. 5 of last year, you stand to be reimbursed if you’re eligible for the American Indian exemption.
Confused yet? There’s help at 800-698-2411, the MyVA number that’s answered 24/7 with assistance on a dozen different topics, from benefits to cemeteries to a crisis line.
© 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.
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