Hoeven:Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act Approved by Indian Affairs Committee

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act, which he is cosponsoring with Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), has now passed the Indian Affairs Committee. The legislation will allow the Indian Health Service (IHS) to cover the cost of copayments for Native Americans receiving medical care from the Veterans Administration (VA). Patients must have a referral from IHS to the VA in order to have their copayment costs covered.

“Our bill enables the IHS to partner with the VA to help our Native American veterans better access the quality, affordable health care services,” Hoeven said. “Now that it has passed out of committee, we will work to get it to the Senate floor for a vote.’”

Currently, Native American veterans must pay out-of-pocket for VA copayments, but the new legislation:

  • Authorizes IHS to cover VA copayments for Native American veterans that have a referral from IHS and receive care from a VA facility
  • Requires IHS and VA to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide for the payment of these fees.
  • Requires joint reports from IHS and VA that detail the number of eligible Native American veterans, the number of referrals from IHS, and updates on efforts to streamline care for Native American veterans who receive healthcare at both IHS and VA facilities.

Hoeven is working to improve health care services for North Dakota veterans through legislation and other actions, including efforts to:

  • Resolve scheduling issues with third party administrators: Last month, the senator hosted a roundtable in Fargo with officials from the VA and Health Net, which resulted in an agreement to develop and start to implement a pilot project over the following 30 days at the Fargo VA Medical Center.
  • Facilitate greater health care services for veterans in both rural and urban communities by allowing the VA to enter into provider agreements with qualified hospital, medical and extended care providers.

Hoeven is a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Committee of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, the Air Force Caucus and the ICBM Coalition.