NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The largest expansion of healthcare for veterans in our lifetime is underway, but veterans should act fast as the deadline for this special enrollment period is quickly approaching.
For the past year, enrolling in healthcare with Veterans Affairs (VA) has been made simpler than ever before, but that special enrollment period ends Saturday, Sept. 30 at 11:59 p.m.
“I did it on my phone. Took maybe 15 minutes to go in and fill out all the information,” said Michael Renfrow, acting executive director for the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.
Renfrow said 6,000 local veterans so far have taken advantage of the special enrollment opportunity created when President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act last year.
“This new process under the PACT ACT for those exposed to toxic exposures and burn pits really expedites that process and makes it easier to get in,” said Renfrow. “We presume that your disease is connected to your period of service and that makes you eligible for care without having the veteran provide additional information and additional documentation.”
This special enrollment also applies to veterans deployed to active combat zones between Sept. 11, 2001 and Oct. 1, 2013. Those veterans can have their healthcare enrollment expedited.
Renfrow said this law expands healthcare to a whole new generation of veterans, which can prevent disease before it gets worse.
“The way you do that is by having a regular, routine check-up, regular routine blood work, meeting with the doctor, having a plan for care early on so your diabetes stays pre-diabetes and doesn’t become diabetes,” said Renfrow.
Here are the options during special enrollment:
- Phone: 615-225-2715.
- Online: va.gov/pact
- In person: Friday, Sept. 29 at the VA in Nashville or Murfreesboro.
“This is care that you earned by your service, so take advantage of it,” Renfrow said.
The VA reports that across the country more nearly 350,000 veterans have enrolled for healthcare during this special enrollment.