The VA is waiving copays for American Indian and Alaska Native veterans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that eligible Native veterans are no longer required to make copayments for health care or urgent care received through the VA.
Under the new policy, the VA will reimburse copays paid on or after January 5, 2022.
Starting Tuesday, April 4, veterans can submit documents to qualify for the copay exemption.
VA officials say eliminating copays will help make health care more affordable and accessible for Native veterans.
Those interested in taking part in the new rule need to fill out a VA tribal documentation form.
According to the VA, this is estimated to impact about 25,000 Native veterans.
More information can be found online at va.gov.
The U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services met with students at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS late last week.
Admiral Rachel Levine, an advocate for LGBT medicine, is working with the Indian Health Service on LGBTQ+ issues.
One challenge in providing care says Dr. Levine is lack of data within IHS.
“We are trying to ask the Indian Health Service to collect sexual orientation, gender identity data. That would be sole on a voluntary basis. So, if you don’t want to answer, you don’t have to answer. But, without asking the questions you don’t and there are specific ways to respectfully ask the question. And to ask it in ways people have flexibility in terms of how they answer.”
Dr. Levine says the data would help in providing care. Dr. Levine is the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was a guest speaker at Haskell on International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The Indian Health Service is a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
North Dakota is home to a tribal college that’s successful in conserving energy.
The success is a reflection of overcoming colonialism in gaining access to key resources, according to the school.
Turtle Mountain Community College sits in the heart of the Turtle Mountain Reservation.
Facilities manager Wes Davis has led an effort to lower the energy bill of the college by 300%.
He did this through controlling the 256 geothermal heating and cooling pumps in the school, each equipped with their own sensor.
Davis says colonialism has imposed a worldview on Indigenous people that has impacted how they sustain themselves.
He suggests that includes access to advanced infrastructure.
“We need to be able to understand how to develop our power and energy and how to get it to our communities.”
In this particular area, Davis says the obstacles largely stemmed from Native populations being excluded from rural electric cooperatives.
But he says there’s now some positive movement in easing that tension, with tribal communities expressing interest in establishing their own co-ops.
Davis hopes what the school has been able to accomplish eventually leads to lower energy costs for Indigenous communities surrounding the campus.
“I want our community to be healthier and [have] a better quality of life for them and not have to be taxed all winter long and about worrying about, ‘Are they going to be able to come home to a warm home?'”
Davis not only wants the college to be sustainable – he wants it to teach sustainability to the community and inspire residents to build more energy-efficient homes.
A future goal for Turtle Mountain Community College involves a vocational H-VAC program and solar and renewable-energy schooling.
This story was produced with original reporting from Jessica Plance for Homegrown Stories in collaboration with the Solutions Journalism Network.
And, the Institute of American Indian Arts Bee-Well Program we told you about on Monday was all just for fun.
Happy April Fools as we kick off the month of April… bee-well!
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