Lawmakers agree to help Veterans Agency fill a budget gap

The Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee said at a hearing on Thursday that he would work with other lawmakers to help cover a significant VA budget gap. This would potentially include legislation allowing the VA to shift money from the “Choice Card” program to cover a $2.5 billion budget shortfall that would otherwise threaten medical care for many patients in coming months.

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Military Medical Leaders Express Concerns Over Health Care Reform

Senior Defense Department medical leaders addressed health care reform on Capitol Hill recently, expressing concern over potential impacts on military medical readiness and overall readiness. Military health care reform was examined as part of the overall Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, which sent its recommendations to President Barack Obama in January.

Read More: http://1.usa.gov/1Na3abK

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Dept of VA “Purchased Health Care Streamlining and Modernization Act”

Veterans and caregivers at risk of being forced out of a VA program that helps keep veterans at home rather than being admitted to a nursing home are one step closer to a solution, thanks to a draft bill expected to be introduced and gain approval in the Senate. The Department of Veterans Affairs Purchased Health Care Streamlining and Modernization Act would give VA the flexibility to continue using provider agreements rather than more complex federal contracts to operate the Veteran-Directed Home & Community Based …

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VA Expands Disability Benefits for C-123 Aircraft Personnel

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has published a new regulation that expands eligibility for benefits for Air Force Veterans and Air Force Reserve personnel who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange through contact with contaminated C-123 aircraft that had been used in Vietnam. VA has published this regulation as an interim final rule so that it could immediately begin providing benefits to eligible personnel who submit a disability compensation claim for any of the medical conditions that have been determined to be related …

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VA Fact Sheet: Making progress to improve service to veterans

A new, detailed Veterans Administration Fact Sheet reports on the status and goals of numerous VA initiatives: e.g., increasing transparency and accountability, expanding access to care and benefits, recruiting and hiring more health professionals, improving customer service, ending the claims backlog, improving healthcare services for women veterans, and others.

Read More: http://1.usa.gov/1G8btiu

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VA prescription crackdown raises new concerns

The number of veterans prescribed opiates and other pain medications through Veterans Affairs has declined under a drug safety initiative. Congressional representatives and veterans advocates have raised concerns that some physicians may have previously over-prescribed addictive opiate painkillers but may now be under- prescribing them as VA hospitals and clinics move to crack down on their use for chronic pain and mental health conditions. The VA is undertaking new initiatives to increase emphasis on counseling, cognitive therapy and alternative treatments.

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VA seeks new benefits for Air Force reservists exposed to Agent Orange

Reversing a long-held position, the Department of Veterans Affairs now says Air Force reservists who became ill after being exposed to Agent Orange residue while working on planes after the Vietnam War should be eligible for disability benefits.  The VA said it has been working to finalize a rule that could cover more than 2,000 military personnel who flew or worked on Fairchild C-123 aircraft in the U.S. from 1972 to 1982.  Approval could be as early as this week.  Read more:

Read More: http://to.pbs.org/1G86XAz

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June 19th Webinar to Discuss TRICARE Pharmacy Options

TRICARE is co-hosting a webinar to educate TRICARE beneficiaries about their options for getting prescription medications. The TRICARE Pharmacy Program provides four ways for beneficiaries to get their prescriptions filled: through military pharmacies, TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery, TRICARE network retail pharmacies and non-network pharmacies. The webinar is scheduled for Friday, June 19, 2015, from noon-1:00 p.m. EDT. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited due to system capacity.

Read more, and sign up for the webinar at: http://1.usa.gov/1LaP5wH

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TRICARE tools to help you learn about your benefits

TRICARE provides several tools to make sure you understand your health plan. One option for TRICARE information is TRICARE videos on YouTube. Another is monthly webinars that provide an opportunity for you to speak directly to TRICARE experts and ask questions at the end of their presentations. There are additional options. Learning about your benefit helps you understand it and the how best to get care.

Read More: http://1.usa.gov/1Kfa3c4

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VA Begins Summer of Service to Bolster Volunteer Assistance for Vets

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a new nationwide initiative designed to build upon its existing partnerships to grow the number of individuals and organizations serving Veterans in their communities. The Department is renewing its commitment to Veterans and embarking upon a “Summer of Service” that seeks the help of citizens across the country to honor that commitment.

Read More: http://1.usa.gov/1GnffLu

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