Vietnam Service and Birth Defects: Financial Help for Parents
In 1996, the U.S. Institute of Medicine concluded that there is limited evidence of an association between exposure to herbicides used in Vietnam (including “Agent Orange”) and specific birth defects in birth children of Vietnam veterans. Additionally, in 2000, an additional study expanded the impact by significantly associating a female veteran’s service in the Republic of Vietnam to giving birth to children with “moderate to severe” birth defects.
In response, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides financial benefits to the birth children of women Vietnam veterans who served during a specific timeframe and whose birth children have specific birth defects. The Children of Women Vietnam Veterans (CWVV) Health Care Benefits Program is an indemnity plan that provides reimbursement for medical care-related treatments and services associated with the covered birth defects. The birth defect may have resulted in a permanent physical or mental disability for the veteran’s birth child, and CWVV funds may be used to pay for a range of services.
It’s important to note that defects caused by family genetic history, by injuries experienced during birth, or by fetal or neonatal infirmities with well-established causes, are not covered by this program. Additionally, this is not a comprehensive health care plan, but only reimbursements for services relating to the specific birth defect.
Eligible recipients of the CWVV funds are children whose biological mother is a Vietnam veteran, who were conceived after the date on which the Veteran entered the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning February 28, 1961, and ending May 7, 1975, and who have one of the covered birth defects.
CWVV allowable amounts are determined using the same methodology used by the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA); in most cases, amounts are equivalent to Medicare rates, and there are no copayments or deductibles for beneficiaries. CWVV pays 100% of the VA determined allowable amount and 95% of claims are typically paid within 30 days of receipt.
To enroll in the CWVV Health Care Benefits Program, eligibility must first be established by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) at the Denver VA Regional Office. Eligible members may mail medical evidence and a completed VA Form 21-0304, to VA Regional Office, Veterans Service Center (339/21), PO Box 25126, Denver, CO 80225. You can also contact the Denver VA Regional Office by phone at 303-914-2900 or by fax at 303-914-5903, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for information regarding eligibility or enrollment. Once eligibility is determined, enrollment is automatic.
Recipients should note that preauthorization is required for certain services, such as
- Dental services
- Durable medical equipment in excess of $2,000
- Mental health services
- Organ and bone marrow transplants
- Substance abuse treatment
- Training of family members
- Travel (other than mileage for privately owned automobiles for local travel)
Requests for preauthorization may be made by fax or in writing to VHA CC. If preauthorization relates to a medical service or supply, the provider can submit the request.
For more information, visit the VA’s online information regarding the CWVV program.
And for the Vietnam veterans themselves, don't forget there is a little-known Aid and Attendance pension benefit that can help both veterans and spouses of veterans better afford senior care. The veteran had to have served during certain periods of time during the Vietnam war. For more information visit www.VeteranAid.org.
Written By Megan Hammons