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Still waiting for travel money

We are still waiting for veterans’ VAHC travel money from the State of Colorado.

As I recently wrote, we were awarded a new Veterans Trust Fund Grant for veterans’ travel money to VAHC appointments, but the wheels of government churn very slowly. I do not expect to have any re-imbursement money in hand until possibly late this month or September.

I suggest all veterans hold on to their receipts and proof of appointments and watch for my announcement that we have travel money again. I will pay retroactively back to June 1 of this year.

Meanwhile, I do have gas cards for veteran travel. You need to see me in advance of your VAHC travel and arrange for one of these gas cards.

Medication co-pays

As previously announced on Jan. 7, 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) froze prescription copayment increases for six months. Veterans who generally have higher income and no service-connected disabilities — referred to as Priority Groups 7 and 8 Veterans — will now pay an additional $1 for each 30-day supply of outpatient medications. Taking effect July 1, the increase to $9 from $8 is the first change in VA’s medication copay since Jan. 1, 2006.

“Because of the harsh economic reality facing many Veterans, we delayed the change,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We’re now ensuring the veterans most in need of VA care are those least affected. Yet, even with this increase, VA medication copays are lower than much of the private sector.”

This change does not impact veterans in Priority Groups 2 through 6, who will continue to pay $8 for each 30-day supply of medications for their non-service connected conditions, unless otherwise exempted. These veterans will also continue to have their out-of-pocket expenses for VA outpatient medications capped at $960 per calendar year.

Veterans who have an injury or illness connected with their military service resulting in a disability rated 50 percent or greater — who are known as Priority Group 1 Veterans — are exempt from the copay.

VA generally sets its outpatient medication copay rate based upon a regulation that ties the rate to the Medical Consumer Price Index for prescription drugs.

Veterans who have difficulty paying copayments for outpatient medications should discuss the matter with their local VA enrollment coordinator. Veterans may also contact the VA at (877) 222-8387 or visit VA’s health eligibility website at www.va.gov/healtheligibility.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198, and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays, call Harriet Mulnix, (505) 793-1782.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave. Durango, CO 81301 (the old Mercy Medical Center). Phone number is 247-2214.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.