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VA proposes eliminating mental health copayments for veterans at risk for suicide

Currently, veterans could be paying anywhere from $15 to $50 per visit.
Credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File
FILE: This June 21, 2013, photo shows the seal affixed to the front of the Department of Veterans Affairs building in Washington.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is proposing to eliminate copayment requirements for outpatient mental health visits for veterans determined to be "high risk" for suicide.

According to a press release, a reduction in copayments for mental health-related medications is also under review. 

"These copayment changes would be applied until VA determines that the veteran is no longer at high risk for suicide," a VA notice reads.

In an effort to get public feedback on how to implement the new VA program, the Department published a notice in the Federal Register Wednesday seeking comments. The public has until March 7 to supply their thoughts.

“Research shows increased frequency of outpatient mental health encounters for high-risk Veterans reduces their risk of suicide,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “Through these efforts, VA will continue to address this national public health crisis by further eliminating financial burdens on Veterans which may negatively influence their engagement in mental health treatment and their critical medication availability.”

According to the VA, there currently is no exemption for outpatient care copayments for veterans who are at risk for suicide. Payments for these types of visits can range anywhere from $15 to $50.

If you are a veteran and having thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, you can contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at http://veteranscrisisline.net/Chat, or text 838255. Someone will be available to you 24/7, 365 days a year.

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