Thune, Rounds introduce legislation to ease medical costs for Native American veterans
WASHINGTON — Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds reintroduced the Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act on April 3, legislation that would improve tribal veterans’ access to health care.
The bill allows Indian Health Services (IHS) to cover copay costs for tribal veterans who are referred to the Veterans Health Administration (VA) for services unavailable to IHS. Many referrals to the VA have a copay cost that is currently the responsibility of the veteran patient.
Sen. Thune stressed that “Veterans, especially tribal veterans who are eligible for care from two federal agencies, shouldn’t have to incur additional health care costs on referrals from one system to the other.”
Sen. Rounds said “I look forward to working with our colleagues to move this commonsense legislation forward.”
The Department of Defense says there are over 150,000 Native American veterans across the country that may be affected by this legislation.
The bill had previously been introduced to the 114th and 115th Congresses. If the legislation goes through, it would also require both the IHS and VA consult with tribes to lay out a plan of action to serve veterans who are eligible to receive care through both agencies.