VA Makes it Easier for Native American Veterans to Access Care

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Indian Health Services and VAEarlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced an agreement with Indian Health Affairs that will make it easier for Native American veterans to access VA-sponsored health care.

The two organizations signed an agreement that will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to directly reimburse IHS clinics and staff for services provided to qualifying veterans who are Native American or Native Alaskan.

Under the agreement, VA copays do not apply to treatments received from the IHS.

Until this point, veterans in very remote, rural areas had difficulty accessing VA care, because they were far from established VA hospitals and clinics. The agreement will make it possible for Native Americans to receive care from clinics already established on and near Indian reservations.

A listing of Indian Health Service medical services and resources is here.

This is not the first agreement between the IHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs. They also reached agreements in Memorandums of Understanding in 2003 and 2010. But this is the first time that IHS clinics were authorized direct reimbursement for services — essentially creating mini VA clinics out of them.

Indian officials believe that not only will treatment be accessible closer to home for these veterans, but also enable them to receive treatment in a more culturally sensitive setting and milieu, according to their 2003 Memorandum of Understanding.


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