Help with Federal Agencies
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is in daily communication with VA leadership and would like to share the following information.
What should veterans do if they think they have COVID-19?
Before visiting local VA medical facilities, community providers, urgent care centers, or emergency departments in their communities, veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms—such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath—are encouraged to call their VA medical facility or call MyVA311 (844-698-2311, press #3 to be connected). Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyHealth-eVet, VA’s online patient portal. VA clinicians will evaluate veterans’ symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate providers for further evaluation and treatment. This may include referral to state or local health departments for COVID-19 testing.
What about routine appointments and previously scheduled procedures?
VA is encouraging all veterans to call their VA facility before seeking any care—even previously scheduled medical visits, mental health appointments, or surgical procedures. Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet and find out whether they should still come in for their scheduled appointments.
Can visitors still access VA medical facilities?
Many VA medical facilities have cancelled public events for the time being, and VA is urging all visitors who do not feel well to postpone their visits to local VA medical facilities. Upon arrival, all patients, visitors, and employees will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure.
What about VA nursing homes and spinal cord injury units?
On March 10, 2020, VA announced that its 134 nursing homes (also called VA community living centers) and 24 spinal cord injury and disorder centers would be closed to all outside visitors.
VA Medical Facility Locator
You can use this locator to find the VA Medical Facility closest to you.
Social Security Administration
Effective March 17, 2020, Social Security Offices Will Only Offer Phone Service
If you need help from Social Security: Please use our secure & convenient online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more – from anywhere and from any of your devices.
If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check our online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office. If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, the Social Security Administration will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead.
If you have a hearing scheduled, the Social Security Administration will call you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing. The call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone. If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call our National 800 Number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Medicare covers related needs:
- Medicare will cover the lab tests for COVID-19. You will not pay out-of-pocket costs.
- Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
- There's currently no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if and when one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
- If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits beyond the ones described below. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.
- Beware the scammers! There are people who may use the coronavirus national emergency to take advantage of seniors. As always, guard your Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and if someone calls asking for your Medicare Number, hang up!
Telehealth & related services
Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to this ongoing public health threat. These services expand the current telehealth covered services, to help you have access from more places (including your home), with a wider range of communication tools (including smartphones), to interact with a range of providers (such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social worker). During this time, you will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings.
- You may be able to communicate with your doctors or certain other practitioners without going in person to the doctor’s office for a full visit. Medicare pays for “virtual check-ins”—brief, virtual services with your established physician or certain practitioners where the communication isn't related to a medical visit within the previous 7 days and doesn’t lead to a medical visit within the next 24 hours (or soonest appointment available).
- You need to consent verbally to using virtual check-ins and your doctor must document that consent in your medical record before you use this service. You pay your usual Medicare coinsurance and deductible for these services.
- Medicare also pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals without going to the doctor’s office. Like the virtual check-ins, for your health and safety, you must initiate these individual communications.
- If you live in a rural area, you may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. The law requires that these visits take place at specified sites of service, known as telehealth originating sites, and get services using a real-time audio and video communication system at the site to communicate with a remotely located doctor or certain other types of practitioners. Medicare pays for many medical visits through this telehealth benefit.