- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2008

I am a retired Navy guy after 21 years service. I have had private employer insurance for many years. I retired this week from state employment. I now have no coverage for medical with the exception of Medicare and Tricare for Life. Could you tell me what I have to look forward to, in the sense of coverage under these programs? These two entities have not paid any amounts for my and my wife’s medical and prescription treatments. I am entitled to VA medical since I have been classified as 60 percent disabled. However, my wife is not.

Another item: I have a 60 percent disability classification. However, in the report sent to me from the disability board, I have 10 percent disability in my right arm. You might be able to clarify this. I don’t know if I should talk to the Disabled American Veterans and see what approach they would take.

I hope I have expressed the above clearly, and want to thank you in advance for your help.

Walter W.

Pennsylvania

Dear Walter:

My sources tell me that Medicare and Tricare for Life provide comprehensive coverage for an eligible couple. You and your wife must pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium, usually deducted from Social Security benefits, but after that, out-of-pocket expenses will be limited. There are co-payments for prescription drugs, but they are modest compared with most insurance plans.

Prescriptions filled at a Military Treatments Facility pharmacy are free. Best of all, Tricare for Life acts as a “Medigap” plan. Because it’s an entitlement, not another insurance policy, most couples save several thousand dollars per year that they otherwise would have to spend for a supplement to Medicare. You need to notify the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System that you have enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to ensure that your claims are handled smoothly.

Service-connected disability ratings are not additive. If you have not been to the VA recently for an evaluation, you should schedule one soon. If you were evaluated recently, then it can be assumed only that Veterans Affairs has properly applied the combined ratings table.

Shaft notes

Kudos to the 22 nurses from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the District who were recognized by Sigma Theta Tau International Inc. as among the “Top 100 Extraordinary Nurses” in the metropolitan area during a ceremony on May 6 at Howard University.

Gamma Beta, the local chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, recognizes nurses annually for their dedication to excellence. The honor society singles out those whose performance reflects extraordinary achievements in clinical practice, education, research, administration, publication or community service. Making Sigma Theta Tau’s Top 100 Extraordinary Nurses list is one of local nursing’s highest honors.

The department nurses recognized were: Sandra Stockton, Nely Balancier, Kathleen Bixby, Sarah Boxley, Derwin Bryant, Helen Choi, Karen Clark-Stone, Kathy Coleman, Lori Cook, Ruth Michelle Cruz, Francios Daniels, Norma Fraser, Sherre Gordon, Raymonna Jean, Joy Laramie, Peggy Limehouse, LaTara Miller, Doris Ogunwumi, Maritza Perez-Gonzalez, Brenda Stidham, Patricia Toles and Robin Woods.

*The 28th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, July 25 to 29 in Omaha, Neb., will attract more than 500 veterans with disabilities. It has become the largest annual wheelchair sports competition in the world. Veterans from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq will again join their fellow veterans in 17 competitive events being offered in Omaha.

*The National Veterans Wheelchair Games, presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America, are open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition because of spinal cord injuries, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments.

*”Like serving our nation, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games are not really about the medals. Instead, they’re a mix of camaraderie, competition and courage. And they’re rehabilitation at its best for our paralyzed veterans,” said Randy L. Pleva Sr., national president of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. “If you are in the Omaha area, please join us this July. You’ll be inspired.”

For more information about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games or to volunteer during the week, visit the games Web site at www. wheelchairgames.va.gov.

*@

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