Close to Agreement on Vets’ Meds

The Pioneer Homes, the state’s assisted living facilities, and the Veterans’ Administration are close to a permanent agreement that will provide free prescription  medicine to veterans who live in the facilities.

As reported here more than two weeks ago, the problem developed when it was discovered that the state homes were charging for medication that would otherwise have been free to veterans from the VA’ s pharmacy. The V-A did not provide the medicine in a dose-sized package that was seen as a safer way for the nursing staff to administer it.

Pioneer Homes Director David Cote (KOH-tee) says until the details have been worked out, a nurse practitioner has been reviewing the cases and prescribing the same medication outside the normal VA process, but there has been a charge for that service.

We are having high level talks with the Veterans’ Administration now, and I believe we have come to a resolution. We’re just looking at all the details and the mechanism of how things will work in order to see what we can implement to allow the veterans to get their benefits and not have to pay for them. As far as any charges that have been made up until this time, I’m looking into all of that as far as what I can do to mitigate those charges also.

Cote declines to give details yet, but says he anticipates having the new arrangement in place within a week. In originally describing the problem last month, Cote said many issues and possible solutions ran into either state or federal restrictions.

Trying to get our two agencies to be able to live within each of our systems and to be able to provide for these veterans has had some complexities to it.

The issue first arose with a letter to the Pioneer Homes from Senator Bill Wielechowski and Representatives Nancy Dahlstrom and Les Gara asking for relief for the veterans who were not getting the benefits to which they were entitled. Wielechowski says he, too, is looking forward to an end to a complex situation.

You have a federal system which has some rules laid out that are different from our state system. In the past, we’ve never figured out a way to bread through and get both sides to mesh. That’s exactly what’s going on right now. It is a little bit complex, some complex bureaucracies on both sides. I’m sure there is a solution and I hope within the next couple of weeks, we’ll be able to get one of those solutions.

Pioneer Homes and Department of Health and Social Services officials met with the lawmakers last week and promised results.


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