IHS, Veterans Affairs Renew Native Health Care Reimbursement Agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Indian Health Service (IHS), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have renewed a Reimbursement Agreement that will help both agencies improve the health of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) veterans. The IHS-VA signed a Reimbursement Agreement on December 6, 2023, that establishes the terms for VA to reimburse IHS for health care services provided to eligible AI/AN veterans.

Through the new Reimbursement Agreement, VA will continue to reimburse IHS for health care and related services provided to eligible Native veterans by or through IHS-operated health care facilities and programs in the areas of direct care and outpatient pharmacy services. Under the new agreement, VA will also now reimburse IHS for purchased/referred care and contracted travel for eligible Native veterans.

“Our American Indian and Alaska Native veterans deserve the best possible care available,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to this updated agreement, they will now have access to even more high quality care. The Indian Health Service has partnered with the Department of Veteran Affairs and tribal communities since 2012 to provide high-quality care to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. I’m proud that we will continue to combine the expertise, services, and resources of our agencies to serve these American heroes, while also promoting cultural competence that reflects their needs.”

“This renewed agreement is a critical step toward ensuring that American Indian and Alaska Native veterans can get the high-quality, affordable health care they deserve – no matter where they live – for years to come,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “We are proud to work with Indian Health Service to serve these heroes, just like they’ve served us.”

The new agreement replaces and expands upon the prior agreement regarding reimbursement for direct health care services that both agencies signed on December 5, 2012. It also specifies reimbursement rates for direct care services, including inpatient and outpatient hospital services, ambulatory surgical care, home health, and medical equipment. In accordance with the Indian Health Care Improvement Act at 25 U.S.C. § 1645 and the VA Sharing of Health Care Resources at 38 U.S.C. § 8153, VA is authorized to enter into reimbursement agreements to financially compensate IHS, tribal health programs and urban Indian organizations for health care and related services provided to AI/AN veterans.

Since 2012, health care programs operated by IHS and tribal health programs have received over $186 million from VA for care to more than 15,000 American Indian and Alaska Native veterans enrolled in VA health care, across 74 participating IHS sites and 116 tribal health program sites.

“Today’s announcement is the result of our agencies’ continued collaboration and shared commitment to ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native veterans have access to the highest quality care they deserve,” said IHS Director Roselyn Tso to tribal leaders attending the White House Tribal Nations Summit. “This agreement will expand our ability to care for greater numbers of American Indian and Alaska Native veterans – a longstanding priority of not just our respective agencies, but one that holds personal significance to me as the daughter of a veteran.”