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Veterans medical benefits once again available locally through UNHS providers - Medically Speaking, Volume Two, Number Nine, 4/9/15

There's good news for Veterans who were recently informed they could no longer receive VA medical treatments from UNHS providers.

UNHS and the Veterans Administration are working on two different contracts for local Veterans that will allow them to receive treatments through UNHS providers again. The Veterans Administration has reconsidered its ruling, regarding UNHS patients who are Veterans but not eligible for coverage under Indian Health Services.

According to Melissa Curley, VA Case Manager for UNHS, the original ruling to cancel the contract for coverage of UNHS patients, who were Veterans, but not eligible for Indian Health Service coverage, was made because there were not enough Veterans to justify the contract. Curley said only a few Veterans were covered under that program and the VA determined that was not enough to merit a VA contract. That decision meant some Veterans who had been treated by primary care providers at UNHS clinics in San Juan County, could no longer use their providers for VA covered medical care. It also meant they needed to make a trip to Grand Junction before they were allowed to see another provider for those same VA covered treatments. The VA's decision placed a burden, and a hardship, on many Veterans living in San Juan County. Curley said the VA was unaware of the distances involved and the hardships imposed by its ruling in this matter. But once the issue was brought to light, and the VA was made to understand the circumstances involved, Curley said the agency took steps to reconsider its decision and establish a new contract to cover those Veterans.

Under the first contract, Veterans not eligible for IHS coverage:

The Veterans Administration recently sent VA Choice cards to Veterans and notified them their covered treatments would have to come from providers in their local areas. However, the VA Choice card holder must make an initial trip to Grand Junction for their first visit. These Veterans are seen, assigned to a specific team for their area, and are able to start being seen by a UNHS provider of their choice. However, everything has to be preauthorized by VA Choice before services are performed. All the details for the new contract are not fully known, but Veterans will be able to receive VA medical care from UNHS providers again. This contract is still in process and should be up and going sometime in April.

Second contract, Veterans who are eligible for Indian Health Service coverage:

These Veterans could still receive a VA Choice card. If you do receive a card, please bring it in to get it scanned into your chart. As long as you're a Veteran with a tribal ID number from any tribe, and as long as you are enrolled in a VA medical center, you are qualified to use this program. This contract is up and going with Utah Navajo Health System.

For additional information about the new contracts for VA medical coverage through UNHS, contact Melissa Curley at UNHS-Montezuma Creek Community Health Center (435) 651-3788. Curley said Veterans requesting VA services through UNHS can apply through her office. Veterans applying must present their DD-214 forms and proof of income for household.

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