DiNapoli Finds Veterans Are Not Informed of Health Benefits Options

Many veterans are being placed in the state’s Medicaid program rather than federal programs due to the poor coordination of health benefits by the state Department of Health and local social services departments. Auditors found many examples where necessary referrals were not made for federal benefits, which limits veterans’ health options, costing the state and local taxpayers millions of dollars.

“Our nation’s heroes should be told that they have options when it comes to where they receive the health benefits they need and deserve. They should not be at the mercy of administrative problems, nor should taxpayers,” DiNapoli said. “New York needs to do a better job coordinating how veterans are receiving their health benefits. Those who served in our Armed Forces should know all of their possible benefits.”

The Medicaid eligibility process allows local departments of social services to identify and refer veterans to the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs or local veterans’ service agencies so they can file for federal benefits. There referrals are vital for enhancing the coordination of veterans’ Medicaid and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, as well as helping ensure veterans access federal benefits.

“In 2002, DOH determined that 15,390 veterans received Medicaid services totaling more than $191 million in 2001. At that time, DOH sent a letter to all local departments of social services commissioners informing them that these expenditures could be reduced if veterans accessed care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The letter told local district commissioners to consider establishing local procedures for educating veterans about their eligibility for health care benefits through the VA and instructed them to assist veterans in obtaining those services. Since then, DOH has done little to ensure that local districts comply with state laws and DOH’s Medicaid policies regarding the coordination of veterans’ health care benefits.”

DiNapoli’s auditors found 679 Medicaid recipients who appeared to be veterans’ dependents and were potentially eligible for VA medical benefits during the five-year audit period. Medicaid paid health care providers nearly $50 million for these recipients.

DiNapoli recommended DOH:
•    Reinforce policies and procedures regarding local districts’ responsibilities, including identifying veterans, advising veterans of federal health care benefits, referring veterans and keeping records of referrals to the state DVA/local VSA, and ensuring veterans file for federal benefits;

•    Identify local district best practices and share among all counties; and

•    Actively monitor the performance of local districts to ensure they comply with the Law and the Department’s policies and procedures regarding the coordination of veterans’ health care benefits.

For more information, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/12s162.pdf 

Dear Friends and Clients,

Our firm is dedicated to act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues. As such, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also ensuring the health and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, most from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for the country we live in, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance and representation from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Marvin Anderman and the firm family of Fine, Olin & Anderman, LLP