This article by Jim Absher originally appeared on Military.com, the premier resource for the military and veteran community.
A proposed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pilot program would help all veterans access free or discounted dental services in their local communities.
Currently, VA only provides dental care to veterans who have a service-related dental problem, are former POWs or are rated as totally disabled as a result of their military service. Under this current law, only about 8% of veterans are eligible for dental care from the VA.
In 2014, in an effort to help offer more dental care for veterans, the VA partnered with private insurers to offer a reduced rate on dental insurance through their VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). VADIP, however, is scheduled to end in 2021 and is only available to veterans enrolled in VA healthcare or families enrolled in CHAMPVA.
Now, according to a notice published in the Federal Register, VA wants to begin an at least five year long pilot program that would connect veterans with dentists in their area who offer free or discounted dental care to all veterans -- not just those with a service-connected disability.
VA says it would create a website where veterans can find participating dentists. The veteran would then make an appointment and be responsible for any charges.
VA may coordinate care and make recommendations for civilian dentists under the proposed plan, but they would not provide any additional dental services or expand existing eligibility for dental care.
Dental care isn't cheap, and VA says they spent over $1.1 billion offering dental care to veterans in 2018. This new program wouldn't end all VA dental care, just make it easier for all veterans to find affordable dental care in their communities.
Comments on the pilot program are due by Jan. 13, 2020. For more details check the Federal Register notice.
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