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Veteran's News

CFL & CHOLESTEROL MEDICATION ALERT


CHAMPVA for Life [CFL]: CFL is a new benefit designed for spouses or dependents who are 65 or older. They must be family members of veterans who have a permanent and total service-connected disability, who died of a service-connected condition or who were totally disabled from a service-connected condition at the time of death. They also must have Medicare coverage.
Beginning October 1, CHAMPVA will pay benefits for covered medical services to eligible beneficiaries who are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Parts A&B. The "CHAMPVA for Life" benefit is payable after payment by Medicare or other third-party payers. For services not covered by Medicare or other insurance, such as outpatient prescription medications, CHAMPVA will be the primary payer.

CHAMPVA beneficiaries who reached age 65 as of June 5, 2001, but were not enrolled in Medicare Part B on that date, will be eligible for this expanded benefit even though not enrolled in Medicare Part B. There is no change in CHAMPVA coverage for those beneficiaries 65 and older who do not qualify for Medicare.

Information about the new benefit has already been mailed to all previous CHAMPVA beneficiaries and providers who have filed claims with CHAMPVA. Those who did not receive it and people over age 65 who have never been eligible for CHAMPVA can request an application by writing to the VA Health Administration Center (HAC), P.O. Box 469028, Denver, CO 80246-9028. Veterans and family members can also call toll-free, 1-888-289-2411, to obtain the latest recorded information, leave a change of address, or request information to be mailed to them. This phone line is 7/24. Inquiries may also be e-mailed to hac.inq@med.va.gov. Updates about "CHAMPVA for Life" and other benefits information will be posted to VA's Health Administration Center Web site at http://www.va.gov/hac
[Source: VA News Release 2 AUG 01]

Cholesterol Medication Alert: Baycol, a cholesterol-lowering drug produced Bayer Pharmaceutical's and taken by 700,000 Americans, was pulled off the market 8 AUG because of muscle destruction linked to 31 U.S. deaths and at least nine more fatalities abroad. This is significantly more fatal cases than its competitors. Baycol, also called cerivastatin, is one of a popular family of drugs called statins that dramatically lower cholesterol and reduce patients' risk of heart attacks. Five other statins Mevacor, Pravachol, Zocor, Lescol and Lipitor are sold in the U.S. and taken by millions of Americans without significant side effects but, every statin has been linked to very rare reports of the muscle side effect called rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is a life-threatening condition in which muscle cells are destroyed and released into the bloodstream. It can cause severe muscle pain, most frequently in the calves and lower back, and occasionally is so severe that patients develop potentially fatal kidney failure. Rhabdomyolysis symptoms include muscle pain, weakness, tenderness, fever, dark urine, nausea and vomiting. It is unknown how many Baycol users have survived a rhabdomyolysis attack Most at risk from Baycol are elderly patients, those who use higher doses, and anyone who uses Baycol together with gemfibrozil [also sold under the name Lopid]. Baycol users should call their doctor about switching medications, and anyone who experiences muscle pain and is also taking gemfibrozil should immediately stop the Baycol and report the pain to a doctor.
The Food and Drug Administration physicians state there are no plans to strengthen existing warnings or take other action against the other statins because of their low incidence of significant side effects. Still, people suffering muscle pain who take any of those statins should report it to their physicians, because they may need a lower dose or a change in medication. For more Baycol information, patients and doctors can contact Bayer at 1-800-758-9794, the FDA at 1-888-INFO-FDA or their web site www.fda.gov . Other drugs that can be safely substituted for Baycol are readily available at military pharmacies [Source: Army News Service, Aug. 10, 2001]
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