Lawmakers urge VA to hurry reimbursement to wrongly billed veterans

Leaders on the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees are calling on the VA Department to speed up reimbursement to veterans who were incorrectly billed for emergency care they received at non-VA facilities, according to

The leaders — House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the Senate VA committee's ranking member — are weighing in after a federal appeals court ordered the department Sept. 9 to pay for emergency care provided to veterans at non-VA facilities.

Mr. Takano and Mr. Tester said they want the VA to tell them how many veterans are affected and "how VA intends to comply with the court's order," which could result in up to $6.5 billion in payments for veterans whose reimbursement claims were inappropriately rejected, according to The committee leaders also want to know "what additional resources — if any — Congress will need to provide for the department." reported that the VA may pay for emergency care provided to veterans at non-VA facilities for non-service-connected conditions in certain circumstances. Although the VA contended it couldn't cover copayments, coinsurance or deductibles, appeals court judges disagreed with that interpretation of law.

"VA was ... informing veterans that they were not entitled to reimbursement for non-VA emergency medical care if they had any insurance covering the service at issue," the judges wrote, according to "In other words, the agency was telling veterans that the law was exactly opposite to what a federal court had held the law to be."

The ruling — which applies to claims filed since 2016 and those that will be filed by 2025 — came after a report released in August by the VA's Office of Inspector General that estimated  the VA inappropriately rejected 31 percent of claims for reimbursement of non-VA emergency care costs in the six months between April 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2017.

A VA spokesperson told Sept. 11 that the department is reviewing the ruling.


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