State Denying Some Disabled
Their Legal Prescription Medicine Benefits
Legislators, Advocates Propose
October 17, 2009
Anchorage, Alasak - Friday three legislators, along with veterans
advocates, presented a solution to a frustrating problem for
military veterans living at Alaska's Pioneer Homes. Currently
Alaska's Pioneer Homes do not allow some disabled veterans to
receive the free prescription medicine benefits they are entitled
to under federal law. Under federal law, disabled veterans are
entitled to free prescription medicine if they have received
a 51 percent or higher disability rating.
Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom (R-Eagle River)
and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) joined to send a letter
(attached) to the director of the Pioneer Homes to propose a
solution to the prescription medicine problem. Wielechowski and
Dahlstrom are co-chairs of the Joint Armed Services Committee.
"Veterans have earned this benefit and deserve it,"
said Beatrice Combs, who brought the problem to light. "Moving
into a private home is expensive and why should we charge them
more for prescription drugs? Even a few hundred dollars a month
is a lot."
"To force veterans who get free medications from the VA
to have to purchase them because of conflicting rules is so typical
of the issues many veterans face," said Ric Davidge, Vietnam
Veterans of Alaska's state council president. "Representative
Gara, Representative Dahlstrom and Senator Wielechowksi have
worked very hard to solve this bureaucratic conflict. We hope
the State can find a solution within these suggestions,"
Davidge has also been seeking a solution.
Gara, Wielechowski and Dahlstrom believe the Pioneer Homes will
work with them to fix the problem, though success has eluded
them so far this summer. Today's letter offers a solution, and
seeks Department help in fixing the problem. While the VA provides
free prescription medicine to disabled veterans, a number of
problems have prevented the Pioneer Home from administering the
free prescription medicine to those patients who cannot administer
their own medicine without staff help. Patients are then required
to purchase the medicine they receive at the Pioneer Homes.
"It's an important benefit veterans have earned by serving
their country," Gara said. "It's a very fixable problem,
and I think the State help us solve it."
"We should not allow governmental bureaucracy to interfere
with the health care our veterans deserve. I look forward to
working with the Pioneer Homes to find a solution to this problem",
"This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed,"
Dahlstrom said. "The veterans in our Pioneer Home should
be able to receive their free medications in our state run facilities.
I am confident we can work with the Department of Health and
Social Services to reach a solution on this matter."
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