WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today made a statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it has revised its regulations related to payment or reimbursement to veterans who have had to seek emergency care at a non-VA facility.
“After seven years of an improper rule being on the books and thousands of veterans being denied reimbursement by the VA, this announcement is a significant step in the right direction,” said Rounds. “The majority of the veterans impacted by this rule change are elderly veterans, many of whom live on a fixed income and have limited resources to pay their medical bills. These men and women have made incredible sacrifices for our country, and I’m glad the VA has taken action to fulfill its legal obligation to cover their emergency care costs. We will continue to review the revised rule to make certain the VA is acting in the best interest of our veterans.”
This rule change complies with the Emergency Care Fairness Act (ECFA), which was enacted in 2010 and directs the VA to cover veterans with private health insurance when that insurance doesn’t cover the full amount of non-VA emergency care. Previously, the VA had not been paying these costs despite its legal obligation to do so, denying hundreds of thousands of veterans’ claims. The new rule directs the VA to pay claims submitted on or after April 8, 2016, which is the date that the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims reversed a Board of Veterans’ Appeals decision in Staab v. McDonald.
Rounds has been working to get the VA to comply with its legal obligation to pay for these costs for over a year. During a June 2017 Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, VA Secretary David Shulkin told Rounds of the VA’s decision to withdraw its appeal and begin writing rules to cover these costs. The rules released yesterday are a result of that announcement.
More information on the revised regulation can be found here.