Rounds, Colleagues Urge VA to Honor Veterans’ Emergency Care Claims

Rounds, Colleagues Urge VA to Honor Veterans’ Emergency Care Claims

Senators Urge VA to Reimburse Veterans for Their Emergency Treatment Claims Before Recent Court Decision

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, along with 11 of his Senate colleagues, today sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin to request that the VA reimburse veterans who were billed for emergency treatment at private hospitals.

In January, the VA announced that it would not retroactively reimburse veterans for their emergency treatment despite a court decision that ruled the VA is responsible for emergency medical costs at private, non-VA hospitals. In response, the Senators wrote to VA Secretary David Shulkin urging him to reimburse veterans who filed a claim for emergency medical costs before the court ruling.

“Between 2010 and April 16, 2016, the VA erroneously denied thousands of veterans’ claims for emergency treatment,” the senators wrote. “With the VA’s recent interpretation of this ruling, veterans who filed claims before April 16, 2016, would see no relief from the VA’s wrongful application of the law and would be stuck paying medical bills that Congress intended that the VA pay. We ask that the VA include those veterans whose claims were decided before April 16, 2016, so that all veterans can fully take advantage of a benefit Congress intended they receive.”

The Expansion of Veteran Eligibility for Reimbursement Act, enacted in 2010, directed the VA to pay for veterans’ emergency treatment at non-VA facilities unless the veteran has another form of insurance that entirely covers their medical costs. Since 2010, the VA has denied thousands of claims because a veteran’s other insurance partially paid for their treatment, leaving veterans to cover the difference for costly emergency care.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled on April 16, 2016, that the VA’s interpretation of its responsibility for non-VA emergency treatment was wrong and ordered the VA to begin paying these claims. Despite that, the VA has chosen not to pay veterans who filed before the 2016 court ruling.

The VA released its new policy regarding payment or reimbursement for emergency treatment at private hospitals on January 9, 2018. The VA will only pay for new claims or those not decided prior to April 16, 2016.

Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also signed the letter to Secretary Shulkin.

The senators’ letter to Secretary Shulkin can be read online HERE.

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3 Replies to “Rounds, Colleagues Urge VA to Honor Veterans’ Emergency Care Claims”

  1. Anne Beal

    Senator Rounds’ office has been very helpful in these matters.
    Previously the only way to get the VA to pay was to go there first, then they would make a transfer to Avera. Since we pass the Avera hospitals at Flandreau and Dell Rapids on our way to Sioux Falls, in emergency situations it was a problem and a few times we went right to Flandreau and once we pulled off at Dell Rapids. Over the years we ran up a lot of bills which would have been covered by the VA if we had managed to get there first.
    In an emergency, the best thing to do is get to the nearest hospital, not drive past two or three to get to the VA.
    We appreciate the Senator’s efforts in this matter!

    Reply
    1. William Beal

      One needs to remember too, that many, if not most, VA Healthcare facilities are not staffed and equipped for emergency services.

      Reply
  2. William Beal

    Under what authority does the VA refuse to follow the directions of Congress and the Court?

    VA leadership must be held accountable, and if those currently in charge cannot, or will not, comply, removed from federal service.

    Reply

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