The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has removed the regulatory provisions regarding the veteran’s net worth as a factor in determining the veteran’s eligibility for VA health care.
Prior to January 1, 2015, VA considered a veteran’s net worth and annual income when determining a veteran’s assignment to an enrollment priority group for VA health care. Reporting net worth information imposed a significant burden on veterans and VA dedicated substantial administrative resources to verify the reported information.
VA changed its policy regarding net worth reporting in order to improve access to VA health care to lower-income veterans and to remove the reporting burden from veterans by discontinuing collection of net worth information. As VA no longer considers net worth in making eligibility determinations, this final rule amends the regulation to remove reference to VA’s discretionary statutory authority to consider a veteran’s net worth as a factor in determining eligibility for VA health care.
Because of the net worth reporting requirement, certain veterans who would have been eligible to receive VA health care based on their annual income were ineligible for such care, or they were placed in a lower priority category, because their net worth was too high.
What does this change mean? We asked Chris Johnson, Associate Attorney at Takacs McGinnis and a veteran of the U.S. Marines. “This change will be very impactful because previously, the VA looked at both the veteran’s income and assets to determine eligibility,” noted Chris. “By transitioning to an income test alone, it will bring into the VA healthcare system approximately 190,000 veterans by the VA’s own estimation. This is critical to opening access to healthcare to more low-income veterans who may have previously been denied.”
Many veterans with health problems have medical issues that stem from having served their country, from exposure to chemicals in burn pits, significant orthopedic injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. “To provide access to VA facilities that treat such issues as a routine, rather than a civilian provider that may come across such issues rarely, ensures our low-income veteran community is being served with the highest level of care available,” Chris added. “This is a big deal for veterans!”