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Veterans who are in need of medical benefits often turn to state Medicaid programs first, not realizing that they may qualify for more generous benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Several years ago, state Medicaid employees launched a partnership with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) to coordinate referrals of Medicaid veterans to federal programs, making sure veterans and their families were linked to available federal benefits.
Veterans Benefit Enhancement Program (VBEP)
This innovative Washington State program is showing how states can improve their veterans' access to federal health benefits and also achieve millions in cost savings for their state budgets.
The Health Care Authority (HCA), in partnership with WDVA, assist veterans qualified for—yet unaware of—their eligibility for federal service-related benefits. Together, the partnership identifies and matches veterans and their dependents, who are receiving state social and health services, to access the maximum federal benefits for which they are eligible.
Public Assistance Reporting Information System (PARIS)
Using a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DSHS) national database, called "PARIS", VBEP identifies veterans who are enrolled in Washington's Medicaid program while also eligible for health coverage, long-term care benefits, or pensions through the VA or Department of Defense (DOD). These individuals are transferred to federal programs, which in many instances provide richer and more comprehensive benefits. In many cases, the increased monthly benefit reduces the amount a veteran's family is responsible for repaying for any Medicaid long term care-related services. Since 2003, VBEP has helped qualify over 15,600 Washington veterans and their families for federal benefits. In doing so, VBEP has also saved over $68 million from the state's Medicaid budget.
The program doesn't reduce medical costs overall, but by shifting spending from the states to the federal government, it both eases state budget pressures and ensures that veterans who have earned the right to access the full range of VA benefits, are informed of their eligibility. Currently, only 23 percent of veterans eligible for benefits are actually receiving them. The program also ensures no veteran falls through the cracks in benefit coverage. Until a VBEP client qualifies for a VA monthly cash benefit that makes them financially ineligible for state public assistance, they maintain existing state benefits.
Veterans Match training
The PARIS Board of Directors presented web-based training on the Veterans Match. View the recorded webinar on the Kansas.gov website, or download the slide deck. (If you choose to view the recorded webinar, you will prompted to download and install Adobe Connect if you do not already have it.)