Does TRICARE for Life cover a nursing home?

Dear Sgt Shaft,

My mother, who is 89, has Tricare for Life coverage. Is placement in an Alzheimer’s unit of a nursing home covered?

Thank you,
Deborea J
Via the internet

Dear Deborea,

Medicare and Tricare for Life (TFL) do not cover long term care services; those services that assist with the activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, eating, toileting or mobility issues or the costs of the long term care facilities. Medicare and TFL coverage includes inpatient care at a hospital, skilled nursing facility (SNF), or hospice. Also services like lab tests, surgery, doctor visits, and home health care. In addition, doctor and other health care providers' services, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, home health care, and some preventive services. Refer to this Medicare site or this Tricare site for more about covered services.

Shaft Notes

• The Sarge joins the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States In his response to an opinion editorial published last week in the New York Times by asking the members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries to e-mail the newspaper with their good news stories.

The editorial published last Tuesday was written by a young university academic who used accused triple murderer Frazier Glenn Miller as the focus of her piece, entitled Veterans and White Supremacy. The author, Kathleen Belew, earned a bachelor’s degree in 2005 from the University of Washington, and then two masters and a Ph.D. from Yale. She is now a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department of Northwestern University, and is also writing a book about Vietnam veterans and the radical right.

“The First Amendment protects the free speech and expression rights of this young author, and the rights of the New York Times to publish it, but it also protects my right to disagree with the message,” said William A. Thien, the VFW’s national commander and a Vietnam veteran from Georgetown, Ind.

“The ‘crazy Vietnam veteran’ label isn’t talked about much these days, yet despite 40 years of moving on with our lives and successfully reintegrating into our communities, we all know the potential is just another headline away,” he said.

“The shooting on Sunday in Overland Park, Kan., was as senseless as it is tragic, but we cannot allow political pundits, the media or our academicians to use the failings of one to once again paint all of us as damaged goods,” he said. “That is why I am asking everyone to their personal comments directly to the New York Times, but in a positive manner, such as ‘I am a proud Vietnam veteran who came home from war, went to work, raised a family, and continues to help give back to my community and country. I am not damaged goods.’

“Let them hear our voices by writing today to letters@nytimes.com.”

• Congratulations to the four Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) researchers were among the 102 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) honored at a ceremony held April 14th. The PECASE is the highest honor conferred by the U.S. government on federal researchers in the early stages of their careers.

“These four VA scientists truly embody the spirit and intent of the PECASE,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “In addition to making important contributions to our understanding of Veterans’ health and provision of treatment, they are also adding to the body of scientific knowledge in their chosen fields of study.”

Joining fellow award recipients from 11 other federal agencies and institutes as well as the intelligence community were VA investigators Dr. Karunesh Ganguly, San Francisco VA Medical Center; Dr. Brian P. Head, VA San Diego Healthcare System; Dr.Katherine M. Iverson, VA Boston Healthcare System; and Dr.Hardeep Singh, Michael E. Debakey (Houston) VA Medical Center. The ceremony took place at the White House.

Ganguly was recognized for his work on human learning vs. machine learning. His efforts to develop brain-machine interfaces—a technology that promises to enable those with permanent disabilities to control prosthetics—will improve the function and quality of life of Veterans and others following spinal cord injury, stroke, or amputation.

Iverson was honored for her studies regarding intimate partner violence (IPV) among women Veterans. Her work regarding the clinical importance of IPV screening has provided a foundation for better IPV detection and treatment and has informed emerging VA policy and program development on this important issue.

Head was nominated for research that may soon lead to gene therapies that treat a variety of nervous system disorders. His work holds great promise for helping those with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, patients recovering from stroke, and Veterans with traumatic brain injury.

Singh was nominated for studies using VA electronic medical data to improve patient safety and healthcare quality. In addition to developing novel methods for reducing diagnostic errors by alerting health professionals to abnormal test results, he has worked toward improved detection and understanding of patient safety issues in the VA outpatient setting.

”We are proud of these young researchers and the outstanding contributions they’ve made to Veterans’ health,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA Under Secretary for Health. “Their work exemplifies the many ways VA Research improves the lives of Veterans and the Nation.”

Established in 1996, the awards are given each year for “innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology” and a commitment to community service.

VA, which has the largest integrated health care system in the country, also has one of the largest medical research programs. This fiscal year, nearly 3,500 researchers will work on more than 2,200 projects with about $586 million in direct funding from VA. Additional research is conducted under VA auspices by VA-affiliated investigators with funding from non-VA sources, such as the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and various private and nonprofit organizations.