American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans will soon have increased
access to health care services closer to home following a recent
Department of Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service (IHS) joint
"There is a long, distinguished tradition of military service among
tribes," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "VA is
committed to expanding access to native Veterans with the full range of
VA programs, as earned by their service to our Nation."
"The President has called on all Cabinet Secretaries to find better ways
to provide our military families with the support they deserve, and that
is exactly what we are doing today," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "American Indian
and Alaska Native Veterans benefit from this agreement, which provides
increased options for health care services."
As a result of the national agreement, VA is now able to reimburse the
IHS for direct care services provided to eligible American Indian and
Alaska Native Veterans. While the national agreement applies only to VA
and IHS, it will inform agreements negotiated between the VA and tribal
health programs. VA copayments do not apply to direct care services
provided by IHS to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans
under this agreement.
"The VA and IHS, in consultation with the federally-recognized tribal
governments, have worked long and hard to come to an equitable agreement
that would ensure access to quality health care would be made available
to our Nation's heroes living in tribal communities," said Dr. Robert
Petzel, undersecretary for health, Veterans Health Administration. "This
agreement will also strengthen VA, IHS and tribal health programs by
increasing access to high-quality care for Native Veterans, particularly
those in highly rural areas."
"This reimbursement agreement between the VA and the IHS will help
improve health care services for American Indian and Alaska Native
Veterans and further the IHS mission and federal responsibility of
raising the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the
highest level possible," said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, director of the
Indian Health Service. "This IHS-VA agreement will allow our federal
facilities to work with the VA more closely as we implement this
critical provision in the recently reauthorized Indian Health Care
Improvement Act, passed as part of the Affordable Care Act."
The agreement between the two agencies marks an important partnering
achievement for VA and the IHS and is consistent with the
Administration's goal to increase access to care for Veterans.
To view the national agreement, please visit: www.va.gov.
To find out additional information about American Indian and Alaska
Native Veteran programs, please visit: www.va.gov/tribalgovernment