12.09.16

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Joins Bipartisan Effort Urging the VA to Comply with Law that Protects Veterans from Exorbitant ER Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joined a bipartisan group of 22 senators, led by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), in writing to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald, urging him to comply with the Emergency Care Fairness Act (ECFA). The ECFA was enacted in 2010 and directs the VA to cover veterans non-VA emergency care bills when their private health insurance doesn’t cover the full amount of care. Yet since 2010, the VA has not complied with the law, denying hundreds of thousands of veterans’ reimbursement claims for emergency care.

Earlier this year, a federal court ordered the VA to write regulations that comply with the ECFA.  In addition to urging the VA to comply with the law, the Senators also requested that the agency fix its mistake and re-open all previously-denied claims.

“Congress’s clear intent in passing the ECFA was to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement for emergency treatment furnished to veterans in non-department facilities,” wrote the senators. “Specifically, congressional intent was to require the VA to act as a secondary payer for emergency treatment costs not covered by the veteran’s third-party insurance. It is evident that the VA has ignored congressional intent. Most troubling is the fact that those who are most affected by the VA’s non-compliance with the ECFA are our elderly veterans, many of whom are living on fixed incomes and have limited resources to pay medical bills.”

In addition to Baldwin, Rounds and Klobuchar, the letter was signed by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Boozman (R-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Steve Daines (R-MT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

The bipartisan effort is supported by The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).

A copy of the letter is available here.