Scuttlebutt > General Comments > VA Beneficiary Travel Reimbursement Program
|VA Beneficiary Travel Reimbursement Program|
3/9/2013 8:46:52 AM
|As most of you know, those of us who have a 30% VA disability rating or greater are entitled to receive travel reimbursement. Some of you, however, may not be aware that VA patients are the only folks in the country who must satisfy a “deductible” before they receive any reimbursement. The monthly deductible of $18 must first be met!
The current VA mileage rate is 41 ˝ cents per mile (as of 1 Jan 2009). It should be noted that in order to be eligible for travel reimbursement, patients must reside more than 14.46 miles from the clinic. Why? Because at that distance reimbursement would satisfy only the $6.00 deductible for a round-trip visit! The deductible actually reduces the mileage rate to 26 ˝ cents per mile for a 40 mile round-trip and for a 30 mile trip, mileage it is reduced to 21 ˝ cents per mile; far less than the official GSA mileage rate of 55 ˝ cents per mile that DOD employees and active duty military personnel receive.
The deductible is clearly not fair to disabled veterans, especially those who are considered by the VA to be permanently disabled!
Also, by law all federal payments are to be made by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT). VA travel reimbursement requires federal payment. By not making it possible for VA Clinics to provide same-day cash payments of travel reimbursements on the same day as patients’ appointments, severe hardship for many of these veterans is created! Many VA patients have a dire need for same-day cash reimbursement just to get back home from their appointments.
The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs has discretionary authority to make periodic increases of the mileage reimbursement rate and to eliminate the deductible, but only if the overall funding to the VA covers the costs of doing so without sacrificing essential services, such as veterans’ health care!
Secretary Shinseki makes a good case for not having yet eliminated the deductible and for not having made periodic mileage rate increases matching the GSA rate increases! His report to Congress of December 2009 delineates the startling reasons why he has been unable to make adjustments to the mileage rate, or to eliminate the deductible.
In my view, if specific funding can be identified for the DOD’s beneficiary travel reimbursement, specific funding for the VA’s beneficiary travel reimbursement and the elimination of the deductible can also be identified. Legislation that would correct this severe inequity is sorely needed!
When and only when the Congress corrects the inequity will our VA patients be treated fairly!
The membership of TWS is large enough to make a difference! We must let our representatives (Senators and Representatives alike) in Congress know that the aforementioned inequities affect the quality of life for our veterans, especially our permanently disabled veterans (including those tagged by the VA to be Individually Unemployable).
I respectfully suggest that each of you (if you concur that these inequities should be corrected) contact your reps in Congress and request their support of legislation which would fix these inequities.
Many thanks shipmates! Brooks