November 04, 2013

Bill would expand ER care reimbursement for veterans

Several members of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, last week announced a bill to help extend emergency care coverage for veterans.

The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), would expand eligibility for reimbursement for non-VA-provided emergency medical treatment to veterans who are unable to fulfill a requirement to get Department of Veterans Affairs care within 24 months preceding that treatment.

Currently, vets enrolled in the VA system can only be reimbursed for emergency care at a non-VA facility if they have received treatment at the VA within the prior two years. But the sponsors say vets who have recently returned from deployment or live in rural areas often cannot meet the requirement because delays in examination appointments at participating facilities have prevented them from receiving VA care.

The bipartisan bill, which has been endorsed by several veterans groups, would waive that prerequisite so the vets in question can be reimbursed for medical care at non-VA facilities.

“For Hawaii veterans in rural Oahu or the neighbor islands who live far from VA facilities, emergency care outside the VA may be their only option,” Hirono said in a statement. “It isn’t fair to punish veterans for waiting times outside their control.”

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Source: FederalDaily