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 Anyone have experience with the VA system? 
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:04 am
Posts: 47
Location: Michigan
Post Anyone have experience with the VA system?
Hi, has anyone had experience with the Veterans Administration system? My dad currently has Medicare and BC/BS, is probably qualified for VA benefits. My understanding is that he cannot just get home health care or long-term care, but must be under the exclusive care of a VA physician. This would mean a difficult change for my parents, however, I think it might assist them with costs in the long run...

My concern is about the quality of care and understanding of LBD. Our closest facility is Ann Arbor, MI. Thanks.


Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
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Hi Sharon,
This same question or shades of it have been asked before. Could I suggest you do a search of past posts containing the word "Veterans"? (A search on the term "VA" yielded nothing for me.) Specifically, Renata ("raffcons") and Lorraine ("lbellomy") have both posted about their challenges with the VA. Several others have as well.
Robin


Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:57 pm
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Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:38 pm
Posts: 712
Location: CA
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Sharonst --

We are in the exact situation as you. Jerome had medicare and BC. We signed him up for VA benefits so that he could get his meds through them, which was a life saver after he hit the donut hole on his Part D coverage.

Generally, out here, when you go in for your first VA intake meeting with a doctor or nurse, they ask what meds he's on, and will write new prescriptions for all the same stuff his "civilian" doctor had him on. They can then line him up for appts. with a slew of specialists at the VA. However, you are under no obligation to go to VA specialists as long as you see your regular VA general doc about once every six months. So Jerome continues to see his regular non-VA physicians and specialists, paid for by medicare and BC, but can always see VA docs if he needs/wants to (although it can take months to get an appt. with a VA specialist like a ger. psych.), at no cost.

Also, VA will not prescribe Namenda unless certain MMSE benchmarks are met, so his regular dr. writes the prescription for that and we get it at our own pharmacy, using Medicare Part D.

You don't say where in MI you are, but it may be that there is a VA clinic much closer to you than the VA medical center for your general doctor appointments, or quickies like the flu or stuff. The specialists are usually at the main medical center, so try to group those appts. for the same day if you use them.

Once in the VA health care system, speak to a medical social worker there as there is a no-cost home health aide benefit that the VA offers -- someone to come up to four hours per day, seven days per week, at no cost ... they can help patient with personal grooming, bathing, etc. and/or basic household chores like cleaning the area in which your LO spends most of his time, cooking a meal, cleaning up after the meal, your LO's laundry, etc. I stumble upon this benefit, so eb sure to ask about it at the VA medical center.

If you can afford it, keep the Medicare and BC as well as signing up for VA benefits-- best of both worlds!

Feel free to contact me off-list if you want more info or have questions.

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Renata (and Jerome-in-Heaven)


Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:07 pm
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:04 am
Posts: 47
Location: Michigan
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:D :D

Wow, this is great news. I spoke with two different VA reps and did not get much info other than to apply for benefits and then arrange a meeting with someone. We really need the home care right now. Also, I think the long-term care co-pay (assuming that is necessary) is much less than the full cost prior to qualifying for Medicaid. I don't know how Medicaid and VA benefits work together, if they even do since they are both govt programs.

We are only about 20-30 minutes from Ann Arbor and that is where their MD is anyway...I will definitely pull out that application tomorrow and get it started! Thanks so much, Sharon.


Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:26 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:59 pm
Posts: 1978
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Sharon,
We started out wanting to use the VA benefits for medication only and we did for a long time and there was no pressure they put on to just use them, but had we not used them for the medication cost we would have gone broke for sure, as time went on and more specialist were needed they turned out to be better than most we had on the outside, no fight for anything, when Jim passed Inever heard from his outside primary but the VA primary called with his condolences, that's just the one of many things!
We had been to the VA just 2 weeks before his passing and had not recieved the bill yet for his visit and meds and when I recieved his meds I called them to try and return the meds unopened but they told me they couldn't except them back but I was not to pay the final bill it was a courtesy to the family for the passing of veteran.

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Irene Selak


Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:12 am
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:04 am
Posts: 47
Location: Michigan
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Thank you for your encouragement. We have not yet applied, dad has been up and down so much we are a bit overwhelmed...however, I will get to it today. We really need the home care aide and respite options sooner rather than later. Dad is becoming more than my mom can handle at home and we really don't want to go the NH route if at all possible. Sharon.


Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:02 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:38 pm
Posts: 712
Location: CA
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Sharon --

Rather than applying yourself, go to a local veterans service organization office (VSO). They are there to fill out the paperwork for you and cut through the red tape to get you into the system. And it is free! In fact, they can handle completing and submitting the applications for almost any of the benefits to which the vet is entitled.

Here is a website with links to the veterans affairs office listed state by state:
http://www.va.gov/statedva.htm

Call the one for your state and ask them for the nearest VA service center to where you are.

Also, look in the govt pages of your telephone book (usually blue) under veterans -- check federal, state and local government listings and you should find the nearest VSO listed there.

Good luck!

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Renata (and Jerome-in-Heaven)


Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:06 pm
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Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:54 am
Posts: 7
Location: Oregon
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Hi Sharon,

I just went through the process of applying for VA medical benefits for my husband. He also has medicare and BC/BS. When applying, I was told that in order to qualify for nursing home care the veteran has to have at least a 30% service connected disability. If not, he can still qualify for medical benefits if his income and assets fall in the VA's formula range. When my husband was accepted into the medical benefit system, he then had to go to the VA and they took blood and urine samples. We then filled out a medical history form and we were scheduled for a required orientation. That was last week. (we live 45 miles away and it takes a transport service for his transportation) His first doctors appt is scheduled for a month from now. The entire process thus far as already taken six weeks. I too am trying to get him qualified for home care. I was just told there is another application that needs to be filled out for that benefit. I hope that helps some. The sooner you get started, the quicker you'll know if you can get the help he needs.

Good luck to you and may God bless you and your family,

Patty


Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:25 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:21 pm
Posts: 172
Location: Ohio
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I've heard of people calling their congressperson (both state & federal) to get some of these agencies moving. My niece did this a few months ago. She just talked to an aide in the office & she got action. You might consider this. Good luck. Dee


Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:25 pm
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Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:25 pm
Posts: 69
Location: N Ala
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pop has had a VA disability for several years. His PTSD got so much worse his % was raised last year. We don't have to pay anything for his meds or anything. His VA PCP is about 30 minutes from us but the hosp is about 100 miles from us.
They have given us a wheelchair and ramp a commode chair and other stuff for pop. I'm in the process of getting estimates for the VA. They are going to redo one of our bathrooms and put a walk in shower so the wheelchair will roll into the shower.
If your LO doesn't have a service connected disability, I don't know how they do stuff but so far they have really been nice to us. The only thing I disagree about is the VA says if the veteran can't drive a car then the veteran can't get a motorized wheelchair. But I aint thru with them yet! pop has 2 bad shoulders and I'm still trying to get him a motorized chair!
Every time we need paper work done, we take it to an office at the courthouse. They know the best way to do the paper work. I think the office is called Veteran Affairs here.
Good Luck
nannyu


Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:52 am
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