Rounds Introduces Veterans Equal Cost for Care Act of 2016
WASHINGTON— U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today introduced the Veterans Equal Cost for Care Act of 2016 to improve care for veterans who receive health care under the Choice Act program. This legislation would amend the Choice Act by eliminating the “secondary payer clause” to make certain veterans do not pay more for private care under the Choice Act than they would if they were seen at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility.
“Because we are a large, rural state, South Dakota veterans are disproportionately forced to use the Choice Act program to receive care at a non-VA facility,” said Rounds. “The intent of the Choice Act, which is to provide relief to those facing long appointment wait times and those who live far from VA facilities, is undermined because of higher out-of-pocket costs and reimbursement issues. In fact, problems with the Choice Act is the number one issue my constituent services representatives handle on a day-to-day basis.
“The Veterans Equal Cost for Care Act would make certain veterans do not pay more for private care under the Choice Act program than they would if they were seen at a VA facility. If the VA doesn’t have the capacity to serve the veterans it is intended to serve, it is only right that it picks up the bill for outsourcing its duties. It is a step in the right direction toward addressing the many problems within the VA to make certain our veterans receive the best care possible.”
In response to long wait times at VA facilities, the 113th Congress passed the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act (Choice Act) in 2014. The Choice Act authorizes veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or are forced to wait more than 30 days for an appointment the opportunity to receive care at non-VA facilities. However, the Choice Act also includes a “secondary payer clause” for veterans who have private health insurance that forces these veterans to pay more out-of-pocket than they would for the same care at a VA facility. Rounds’ legislation repeals the “secondary payer clause.”
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