Forward Observer — VA Expands Medical Reimbursement Period for Drinking Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune

LVMAC Poster Art 2005On 18 July the VA issued a final ruling which expanded eligibility for those who may have been affected by drinking contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.  The window of eligibility has been expanded by about two and a half years.  Previously, you must have been there from 1 January 1957 to 31 December 1987.

You may now be eligible for VA health benefits if you served on active duty or resided (family members) at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.

Veterans who are determined to be eligible will be able to receive VA health care at no cost for qualifying health conditions (no copayments).

Family members may also receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred from the treatment of qualifying health conditions after all other health insurance is applied.  This seems unfair to us.

There is also a hitch concerning reimbursement as a result of this change.  The cost of treatment may be reimbursed for both the veteran and a family member if the care was provided on or after December 16, 2014, when the ruling expanding eligibility was signed. However, the request for reimbursement must be submitted no later than July 18, 2018.

Below are the 15 medical conditions recognized:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Female infertility
  • Scleroderma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral effects

Meanwhile, VA is still in the process of finalizing a rule to grant Camp Lejeune veterans presumptive disability monetary compensation for 8 of the 15 medical conditions found to be associated with exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.  They have been slow about this since the announcement of their intention to do so made in December of last year.   Regardless, veterans who have been diagnosed with any of the 15 conditions should file a claim when possible to preserve the effective date as we have previously reported.

When finalized, the proposed rule would expand benefits eligibility to veterans and members of the Reserves and National Guard who were assigned to Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987.

To keep posted on VA rulings, policies and procedures, click here.

Sources:
RAO Bulletin, 1 August 2016, pp. 19-20
NAUS Weekly Update, July 22, 2016
“Camp Lejeune: Past Water Contamination”, VA Public Health Website page, accessed 5 August 2016 <http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/&gt;

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RJH
As of 7 August 2016

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