BY LENA MITCHELL
A Veterans Affairs policy change will permit some veterans to obtain their prescription drugs from the VA when the prescription was written by a private physician.
The change has only limited application, but temporarily diverts efforts by First District Congressman Roger Wicker to improve veteran service in obtaining prescriptions drugs.
Under this short-term policy, about 200,000 veterans nationwide are eligible. They must be new patients of the VA who have waited for a first appointment more than 30 days, and have signed up with VA before July 25, 2003.
They will not be able to obtain the first prescription until Sept. 22, 2003, to allow the VA time to identify and contact eligible veterans, and to put new systems and procedures in place to deliver the benefit, according to veterans newsletter “Gulf1.”
“It's a step in the right direction but it doesn't go nearly as far as my legislation would,” wicker said. “My proposal would simply allow veterans who are eligible for prescription drug coverage through the VA to use the prescription of a private physician if they so choose – very simple.”
A $1.8 billion cut in the VA medical appropriations bill has made the American Legion very unhappy.
“We have neither the heart nor the will to ensure that all United States veterans receive the medical care they earned and we owe them,” national commander Ronald Conley wrote in a press release.
Wicker stands behind the congressional commitment to veterans.
“The House-passed appropriations bill provides an increase of $1.4 billion over last year in veterans health care,” he said. “For the last five years Congress has increased the appropriation for the Veterans Health Administration by $1.6 billion per year. What the facts show is that we have a very good track record of increases in terms of veterans spending.”