Stand with NCOA and Support “The Deborah Sampson Act to Improve VA Services for Women Veterans”
Call to Action
On March 21, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Senator Jon Tester, introduced S. 681, the Deborah Sampson Act. This comprehensive measure addresses gender disparities and would improve and expand programs and services for women veterans provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The bill would establish a pilot program for peer-to-peer counseling and authorizes group retreat counseling for women veterans recently separated from military service. It would expand the capabilities within the VA Women Veterans Call Center and extend the number of days, from seven to 14, VA can cover the cost of care for newborns of women veterans and authorize medically necessary transportation for newborns.
The legislation aims to eliminate barriers to care by ensuring every VA medical facility has at least one full-time or part-time women’s health provider, as well as a Women Veterans Program Manager and a Women Veteran Program Ombudsman. Additional resources are authorized for mini-residency training in women’s health for clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy, safety and improve the overall environment of care for women veterans.
S. 681 would provide support services for women veterans seeking legal assistance and authorizes additional grants for organizations supporting women veterans and their families. Finally, The Deborah Sampson Act would require data collection and reporting on all VA programs serving veterans, by gender and minority status, including a report on the availability of prosthetics for women veterans and would better coordinate outreach by centralizing all information for women veterans in one easily accessible place on VA’s website.
Please contact your elected representatives to urge co-sponsorship and passage of S. 681.
As always, thank you for your support.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2016
New Regulation Decreases Cost of Outpatient Medication
Copay for Most Veterans
Washington – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its regulation on copayments for Veterans’ outpatient medications for non-service connected conditions. VA currently charges non-exempt Veterans either $8 or $9 for each 30-day or less supply of outpatient medication, and under current regulations, a calculation based on the medication of the Medical Consumer Price Index (CPI-P) would be used to determine the copayment amount in future years.
“Switching to a tiered system continues to keep outpatient medication costs low for Veterans,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. David J. Shulkin. “Reducing their out-of-pocket costs encourages greater adherence to prescribed outpatient medications and reduces the risk of fragmented care that results when multiple pharmacies are used; another way that VA is providing better service to Veterans.”
This new regulation eliminates the formula used to calculate future rate increases and establishes three classes of outpatient medications identified as Tier 1, Preferred Generics; Tier 2, Non-Preferred Generics including over-the-counter medications; and Tier 3, Brand Name. Copayment amounts for each tier would be fixed and vary depending upon the class of outpatient medication in the tier.
These copayment amounts will be effective February 27, 2017:
$5 for a 30-day or less supply – Tier 1 outpatient medication
$8 for a 30-day or less supply – Tier 2 outpatient medication
$11 for a 30-day or less supply – Tier 3 outpatient medication
These changes apply to Veterans without a service-connected condition, or Veterans with a disability rated less than 50 percent who are receiving outpatient treatment for a non-service connected condition, and whose annual income exceeds the limit set by law. Medication copayments do not apply to former Prisoners of War, catastrophically disabled Veterans, or those covered by other exceptions as set by law.
Copayments stop each calendar year for Veterans in Priority Groups 2-8<http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/resources/priority_groups.asp> once a $700 cap is reached.
More information on the new tiered medication copayment can be found here<http://https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=VA-2016-VHA-0003-0001>.
Trump Transition Team Meets With Veterans Groups to Discuss VA Reforms
- By Eric Katz
- December 1, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team met with leaders in the veteran community for the first time on Thursday, with the two sides amicably discussing the organizations’ goals for reforming the Veterans Affairs Department.
Six Trump advisers, including some but not all of the individuals he named to his VA landing team, met with representatives of more than 30 veterans service organizations at the American Legion office in downtown Washington, D.C. The VSOs did nearly all of the talking, with transition officials content to listen to the groups’ concerns and priorities.
While some of the reforms Trump advocated on the campaign trail and the views of those he has either appointed or met with on VA issues are in stark contrast to the solutions the veterans groups have proposed, VSO leaders said the transition members were friendly and receptive to their ideas.
Trump’s team and the groups hold some “opposing views,” said Verna Jones, American Legion’s executive director, but she was “very pleased” with how the meeting went. Everyone in the room, she said, wants “to do what is best for veterans.”
Attendees of the meeting, which was closed to press, noted the attentiveness of the Trump’s delegation and their incessant note-taking. Still, the VSOs in a press conference after their meeting were not shy about voicing their disagreements with some of the positions voiced by Trump and his allies in the past. Trump has met with and is considering nominating for VA secretary former CEO of the conservative-aligned Concerned Veterans for America, Pete Hegseth. He has placed a senior adviser to the group, Darin Selnick, on his VA landing team that is at the department working with career employees and outgoing political officials to prepare the next administration.
Since it launched in 2012, CVA and the other, larger veterans groups have consistently been at odds. The VSOs represented at the Thursday meeting have said CVA’s proposals to limit government’s role in providing care to veterans by expanding “choice” in the private sector is, at its core, a shift toward privatization. Jones and other leaders reiterated on Thursday any such shift would be a “slap in the face” and their groups are prepared to fight back against any effort to get rid of or undermine the Veterans Health Administration.
Sherman Gillums Jr., executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America, said his group faced an “obligation to resist” attempts to move veterans away from VA care. He acknowledged there remains a lot of work to do to make the VA perform better, suggesting among several proposals the department hire more nurses and physicians.
Despite the disagreements, the Trump administration will likely find an ally in the veterans groups as it attempts to ease the disciplinary process for senior VA employees. Rick Weidman, executive director of Vietnam Veterans of America, said VA needed to more efficiently “weed out the folks that need to go away.” In his official campaign proposal to reform the VA, Trump vowed to use his signature phrase on “incompetent” VA executives: “They’re fired.”
Weidman and Gillums said the 31 groups in attendance on Thursday were “united” in their desire to see increased accountability for VA’s senior executives. Congressional Republicans have pushed to ease the firing of all VA employees even as its 2014 reform efforts have run into legal troubles.
The VSOs said they were confident the 115th Congress would recognize the logic of maintaining a strong VA and the need to invest in its infrastructure. They appealed to Trump’s business sense, saying his experience in the private sector should alert him to the dollar-for-dollar value of the department and its network of health care facilities.
All of the leaders applauded the reform efforts undertaken by current VA Secretary Bob McDonald, but said they did not discuss with Trump’s team any names for future leadership. Trump’s ensemble included Steve Buyer, a former Indiana congressman and House Veterans Affairs’ Committee chairman; Mike Meese, from the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association; Bill Chatfield, former director of the Selective Service; Matthew Miller, formerly with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Eric Ueland, a former Capitol Hill staffer; and Omarosa, a former contestant on the Trump-hosted reality show The Apprentice.
The meeting was a first step, with Trump’s team already informing the groups it would meet with the six congressionally-chartered veterans organizations again next week. In the meantime, the transition members asked the VSOs to send in their policy ideas and position papers for review.
Korean War Medal for those who served 1950 – 1953
Korean War Veterans Recognition
The Republic of Korea is awarding the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal for
veterans of the Korean War (1950-1953).
If you served, you may be eligible for the Korean Ambassador Peace Medal. The
medal is an expression of appreciation from the Korean government to US service
men and women who served in the Korean conflict.
To be eligible, the veterans must have served during the Korean War from June
25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.
If a veteran was a Navy service member and had served aboard a naval vessel,
then he or she is eligible, if the naval vessel was assigned into Korean waters
during the 1950 to 1953 time frame. You can find this information in the
Veteran’s Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, DD 214. Please
note that both men and women are eligible for this medal.
To establish eligibility, you need a signed cover letter and a copy of the
Veteran’s Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, DD 214. The DD
214 need not be certified or notarized. It is recommended you cut out or delete
your social security number if it is on your DD Form 214.
The cover letter needs to be addressed to:
Ms. Patricia West Korean Consulate 229 Peach Tree Street NE International Tower
Suite 2100 Atlanta, GA 20303
VFW Commander Presents Korean Ambassador Medal: Commander Denis Mecum pinned
Comrade Dan Irons with the Republic of Korea Ambassador Peace Medal during the
July 2015 meeting recently. The medal is an expression of appreciation from the
Korean government to US service men and women who served in the Korean conflict.
The medal comes with an inscribed letter from the Korean people expressing the
nation’s gratitude for service rendered during the Korean Conflict 1950-1953.
The award is presented to all who served on Korean soil during the Korean War
period. Navy personnel are also entitled to the award if the Naval service was
conducted on board ship in Korean waters. Anyone who might be entitled to
receive this award should contact Rich Heroux, (919) 494-2707 or email RHEROUX1
@ nc.rr.com, for details for requesting the medal and certificate.