On April 4, 2023, the veterans administration (VA), published a final rule regarding copayments for health care and all urgent care visits for eligible Native American and Alaska Native veterans. This copay exemption connects veterans to the quickest and best care and encourages Native American and Alaska Native veterans to seek medical care through the VA.
- Unfortunately, this decision did not include Native Hawaiian veterans. How could inclusion of Native Hawaiian veterans for this rule change benefit them?
- It would allow Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems to be reimbursed by the VA when eligible veterans receive services.
- It would exempt Native Hawaiian veterans from cost sharing at VA facilities.
- It would include Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems in the VA Community Care Program allowing for more immediate treatment.
- It would indirectly allow for community resources to be made available for other needs.
- It would encourage Native Hawaiian veterans to seek general VA benefits, not just for health care.
There may have been a variety of reasons why Native Hawaiian veterans were not included in this rule change, such as the topic of federal recognition, The Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, or it may be as simple as the referencing of the Indian Health Care Act for eligibility.
Regardless of the reason for non-inclusion, Sen. Mazie Hirono’s office is working on legislation for the Native Hawaiian veteran community paralleling that of the April 4 rule decision. For those who agree that Native Hawaiian veterans should also receive this benefit, I urge you to contact Hawaiʻi’s congressional representatives and share your thoughts with them.