|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
April 2, 1998
Youngstown, Ohio – U. S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) wants veterans in the Mahoning Valley to be aware of recent changes in veterans' eligibility for health care, and to beware of incorrect information circulating on the Internet.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is required by law to establish an enrollment system for veterans health care services by October 1, 1998. While veterans must be enrolled to receive care, veterans who have not applied for enrollment by that date will not lose their eligibility for VA health care. Veterans can apply and be enrolled at the time they are in need of VA health care. Veterans who have received VA health care services since October 1, 1996 will have an application processed automatically.
Applicants will be placed in one of seven enrollment priority groups specified by Congress. Based on the priority they are assigned, the number of other veterans requesting to be enrolled, and the funds available for VA health care, VA will determine how many veterans can be served. Veterans will be notified by mail beginning in late spring as to whether or not their enrollment application has been accepted.
After October 1, 1998, some veterans may still be treated without being enrolled. Veterans with service-connected disabilities may be treated for those disabilities, and veterans who were discharged or released from active duty for a disability incurred or aggravated while on active duty may be treated for that disability within the first 12 months after their discharge.
Veterans who are classified as service-disabled with a rating of 50 percent or greater will continue to be eligible for VA health care services without applying for enrollment. While veterans in these categories do not have to be enrolled to be treated, they are encouraged to do so to help VA better plan services and allocate resources. Those who are enrolled will be eligible for inpatient and outpatient services, including preventive and primary care.
Veterans accepted for enrollment will be eligible to receive care at any of VA's more than 1,100 service sites. While enrollment must be renewed every year, a veteran's enrollment will automatically be renewed unless he or she chooses not to re-enroll, or VA resources limit the number of veterans the VA can cover. Certain veterans will be asked to provide income information annually in order for VA to properly classify them.
To apply for enrollment, veterans should call, write or visit their nearest VA health care facility. Most facilities have designated special enrollment coordinators to assist veterans and their families.
The VA operates an outpatient clinic in Youngstown at 2031 Belmont Avenue. The phone number for the Youngstown VA outpatient clinic is 330-740-9200.2009