VA wants to recalculate vets' copayments

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The VA wants to change the definition of what it considers available resources.

Currently, the agency only takes into account a veteran's and their spouse's assets above $89,280 and exempts the amount below that threshold from its calculation once a veteran has been receiving care for 180 days. That dollar amount is derived from a provision calculating Medicaid allowances, but while the Medicaid limit increased with inflation since the copayment rule was published in 2004, the VA's never did.

The agency says it now needs to raise that threshold, called the spousal resource protection amount, to $115,920, the current maximum standard under the Medicaid provision.

The VA also wants to tie its threshold to Medicaid's, so that it would grow in future years.

“This would ensure that the spousal resource protection amount accounts for inflation and is consistent with the comparable protections for spouses of Medicaid recipients,” the proposal states.

The agency claims that the change will ensure the family of a veteran receiving care will have more money to pay for expenses aside from the treatment.

“We completely support the VA's efforts to try to modernize their view with regard to the liquid assets threshold,” said Louis Celli, the legislative director of the American Legion.

“We're very pleased to see the Department of Veterans Affairs has taken the time to review some of their more dated material to make sure that it's in line with current economic standards,” he added.

The proposed change “will provide a greater deal of protection to the veteran and the non-institutionalized spouse during a change in circumstances that can place financial strains on the family,” the proposal claims.

The department's proposal will be printed in the Federal Register on Monday, and the VA will accept comments on the proposal for 60 days after that.