Updates For US Veterans in the Philippines.

Attention US Vets.

Attention US Vets.

(Updated 17 Jun 2020)

I’m just republishing this as a service to any of my readers who are US Veterans.

Thanks to my good friend Jim who forwarded the email to our US Veterans in the Philippines group.

And thanks to the Manila Clinic director, Daniel Gutkoski.  In my nearly 14 years here in the Philippines I have never seen an email from the VA clinic with as much detailed information, much less the director’s direct email and desk phone number.  Could it be there is now actually someone who cares in the VA.   I’m hopeful.

Attention US Vets:

Attention US Vets.VA MANILA OUTPATIENT CLINIC

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REMINDERS

June 16, 2020

  1. UPDATES FROM THE CLINIC MANAGER

Greetings from Manila. I wanted to take a second to share some updates on the Outpatient Clinic’s operations. Currently, the Outpatient Clinic and Regional Office remain closed for scheduled and walk-in appointments. As a part of the US Embassy to the Philippines, we are following the State Department’s Diplomacy Strong Framework for reopening. We are tentatively targeting July 6 to resume some limited in-person appointments, but this date is still tentative and subject to change depending on the current COVID-19 status within Metro Manila. As soon as more information in available about our scheduled reopening, I will provide further updates by email.

Back in May, the Outpatient Clinic started providing telephone clinic appointments in primary care and mental health, which so far have been going great. I am glad that we are able to reach anywhere from 45-60 Veterans daily with telephone consults. We are likely going to continue offering telephone appointments in primary care and mental health as an option for Veterans at least through September 2020, and possibly longer. ALL primary care and mental health appointments will be by telephone until July 2, 2020. Veterans with scheduled appointments between now and July 2 should be getting an appointment reminder call from their PACT Team 5 days before their appointment to advise them that their appointment will be by telephone and to confirm your best telephone number for the appointment.

The OPC has started to have approximately 30% of our staff reporting daily this week, after having been closed since March 17 and only having our essential pharmacy staff reporting. With bringing additional staff back to work, we hope to resume telephone service again for Veterans with questions or concerns during normal working hours (7:30a – 4:30p Monday to Friday) on Friday this week, June 19. Veterans can contact the OPC at +63-02-8550-3888, Option 2, or by dialing #MyVA (#6982).  Additionally, with these new staff members reporting to work, we will be able to begin rescheduling the 5,000 appointments we cancelled between March and May. We appreciate your patience as we work to get through this significant backlog. The Outpatient Clinic is actively working on strategies to expand some of our appointment times to reschedule Veterans’ appointments as quickly as possible.

There continues to be some delays with medication shipments that are the result of our courier companies – Air21 and LBC – still operating, just as the OPC is, with a reduced number of staff reporting daily. Delivery times are ranging from 1-2 days within the NCR and Central Luzon, to 3-5 days for shipments to North and South Luzon, to anywhere from 5-10 days for areas of Mindanao and the Visayas.  I realize this is less than ideal, but as domestic flights begin to resume to many airports in the Philippines, we are hopeful these extended delivery times will be back to normal. Air21 and LBC are also not currently accepting perishable items for shipment – so some Veterans who use items like insulin pens or other injectable medications, are not able to receive those via courier. Veterans may pick these medications up from the Clinic, or should purchase these needed medications through community pharmacy providers and seek reimbursement from the Foreign Medical Program for service-connected medications.

Please feel free to contact my office by phone directly: +63-02-8396-3735, or email me at: daniel.gutkoski2@…. If I haven’t responded to your email after a few days, please give me a call. Sometimes, depending on your email provider, some e-mail messages are rejected from our email system. I continue to wish you and your family good health. Continue to follow the guidelines from the Philippine Department of Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Local Government Units. The 3 most important things you can do to help stop the spread of COVID19 – is to maintain adequate social distancing whenever possible, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask when out in public.

  1. IN MEMORIAM – VICKI LOU RANDALL (1950-2020)

Many of you will remember Vicki Randall, who served as the Clinic Manager here at VA Manila from 2012 to 2019. It’s with great sadness that I share with you that Vicki passed away on May 8, 2020, surrounded by family and friends. A proud Oklahoman, she often stood head and shoulders above the rest – especially here in the Philippines – with her always perfect blonde hair.

Vicki came to VA as a second career, retiring after 30 years from the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Allied Health. An educator by training, Vicki relished and excelled in positions which allowed her to put the best skills of a teacher to work, those of a mentor, educator, and a friend. After nearly ten years at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, Vicki and her husband Rick were drawn to the Philippines for the adventure and excitement of living abroad. For eight years, Vicki and Rick embraced the Philippine people, land, and culture. After leaving VA Manila in 2019, she served as a Health System Specialist at the VA Network Office in San Francisco, until her illness forced her to retire in January 2020 to focus on her health.

Vicki is survived by her husband of 39 years, Rick, 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and countless other family, friends, and colleagues. I am especially grateful for the mentorship and friendship that Vicki shared with me, both upon my arrival, and even continuing as she transitioned to her new role and even after her retirement. We will greatly miss her energetic and caring spirit.  If Veterans would like to send a note or story to Vicki’s family, please feel free to send it to me via email:daniel.gutkoski2@…. I will include all the comments I receive in the memorial book that VA Manila will send to Vicki’s family when the Clinic resumes operations and our staff can offer their combined condolences.

 

  1. UPCOMING HOLIDAYS:  

The U.S. Embassy, along with the VA Manila Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic, will be closed in recognition of the following public holidays:

US Independence Day

Friday, July 3, 2020

PH Eid’s Adha

Friday, July 31, 2020

PH Ninoy Aquino Day

Friday, August 21, 2020

PH National Heroes Day

Monday, August 31, 2020

NOTE: Plan ahead and order your refills 10 workdays in advance of holiday closures.  Air21 is also closed on these holidays so medications will be delayed if you fail to request refills 10 days in advance. If you run out of medications for a service-connected condition, you can buy the medicine from a community pharmacy and file a claim for reimbursement from the FMP.

  1. FOREIGN MEDICAL PROGRAM (FMP) UPDATES

 As a reminder to all Veterans using the FMP, providers who agree to bill VA on your behalf for Service-Connected Care may still collect from Veterans for any care provided that is not related to your service-connected conditions. For example, if you have a service-connected rating for a knee disability and are hospitalized for treatment on that knee, all services provided related to your service-connected condition will be reimbursed by the FMP. However, if you have non-service-connected diabetes, any diabetes treatment you receive while you are hospitalized would be your responsibility and you should expect to be required to settle your portion of the bill in cash at the time services are provided.

A current list of FMP participating hospitals is below:

Divine Grace Medical Center Cavite, Philippines
Manila Doctors Hospital Manila, Philippines
Unihealth Baypointe Hospital Olongapo, Philippines
Sacred Heart Medical Center Angeles City, Philippines
The Medical City Clark Angeles City, Philippines
The Medical City, Iloilo Iloilo, Philippines
Avitus Kidney Care and Dialysis Center Olongapo, Philippines
D&A Care – Physical Therapy Metro Manila, Philippines
Manila Hearing Aid Company 14 locations
Asian Hospital Medical Center Alabang, Philippines
Disclaimer: The list of participating hospitals is subject to change without notice and the VA is not responsible if the facility above chooses not to participate.

 

The Medical Center in Ortigas has suspended billing FMP.  This is due to billing practices and submission of incomplete information that result in FMP denying or being unable to process the claim. Currently, the following facilities and FMP are working together to resolve the issue.  In the meantime, Veterans must settle their bills in cash and request reimbursement from FMP.

 

  1. TIPS FOR FAST FMP REIMBURSEMENT
  1. Email or fax your claim instead of mailing it. You will reduce processing time by at least two weeks.

Email: hac.fmp@…

Fax number: 1-303-331-7803

  1. Submit your claim in one complete package.  A complete package includes:
  • A completed VAF 10-7959F-2, Foreign Medical Program (FMP) Claim Cover Sheet.
    • Use a permanent address where mail will always reach you.
  • Include a diagnosis or nature of illness or injury
    • Doctor’s name and medical title
    • Doctor’s office address
    • Doctor’s office telephone number
    • Doctor’s billing address if different from office address
  • Include claim information – ESPECIALLY the Diagnosis Treated
    • Narrative Description of each service and/or drug (This determines if the condition is Service Connected)
    • Each service’s billed charge
    • Date(s) of service.

Submitting an FMP claim without all the required information WILL be denied and you will have to resubmit.

HOW CAN I HELP GET MORE HOSPITALS TO ACCEPT FMP?

Contact your Veteran Organizations, Retired Activity Officers and Post Commanders to meet with hospital leadership in your community.   Several hospitals on the current list are there because the RAO and Veterans organizations facilitated their participation

  1. VETERANS CRISIS LINE

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified and caring Department of Veteran Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat or text.  Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.  To learn more about the Veterans Crisis Line or to chat online, go tohttps://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ and click on the appropriate link.

 

4 thoughts on “Updates For US Veterans in the Philippines.”

  1. Back when we lived there, the Medical City in Pasig accepted LOAs from the VA. I wonder if there are still LOAs or this is just reimbursement even for service-connected disabilities.

    1. Hi Claudette,

      From what I understand the FMP (Foreign Medical Program) has replaced the LOA program. It seems to work well, except that The Medical City, Pasig has had continuous problems with getting their billing correct and thus have dropped out of the program for now. But only the VA can give you the correct information, I don’t use any of the VA facilities or programs, just passing on the email without comment. (my lawyer made me write that, LoL)

  2. Your info is badly outdated. VA Manila will no longer give meds to Vets starting Ovt 1. FMP is a complete farse! Good luck depositing a US treasury check into a Philippine peso account. They took everything away from Vets. There are NO loa’s, no more prosthetics, no more anything.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Did you happen to look at the date of the post and the source of my information? It was accurate at the time it was written (not by me but by the persons credited). Things change in two or more years, for example, if you read any other posts you’ll see I left the Philippines because to services for veterans there is abysmally poor.

      Have a great day,

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