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Court Orders Veterans Affairs To Reimburse Veterans' Emergency Care Costs Incurred At Non-VA Hospitals

Court Orders Veterans Affairs To Reimburse Veterans' Emergency Care Costs Incurred At Non-VA Hospitals

Ordering the VA secretary to "readjudicate these reimbursement claims," the ruling said, "All of this is unacceptable."

A ruling made by a federal appeals court on Monday requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans the charges for emergency medical care they acquired at non-VA facilities. According to NBC News, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims found the department guilty of violating federal law by the issuance of a rule last year which essentially blocked all reimbursements towards veterans who sought emergency medical care at non-VA facilities. Now, the Department of VA might have to pay off billions of dollars to veterans who were wrongfully denied before. 



 

Ordering the VA secretary to "readjudicate these reimbursement claims," the ruling said, "All of this is unacceptable." As per reports, the VA was quick to whip up an internal VA regulation in order to wrongfully block all payments made towards reimbursing veterans for emergency medical care at non-VA facilities. Lawyers representing these plaintiffs in this case revealed that the VA is now looking at an estimated amount between  $1.8 billion and $6.5 billion in reimbursements towards thousands of veterans who had filed or would be filing these claims between 2016-2025.



 

This ruling against the department comes shortly after another where the court nullified another one VA internal regulation which denied any coverage for an emergency claim if any kind of insurance qualified to cover even a small part of their bills. The regulation implemented by the VA was found to be violating a 2010 federal law as per the court ruling. This time around, the department was disrupting the same law by revising its reimbursement regulation.



 

One of the plaintiff's in this case, Amanda Wolfe, a former Coast Guardsman revealed her happiness during an interview with the news station on Tuesday. "I’m just overjoyed. I think it means change, it means that veterans don’t have to be afraid of receiving care, emergency care. They can have that sense of security that sense of peace knowing they are covered if they have emergency care," she said adding, "I served side by side with some of these veterans who were impacted and to think that this is going to make a difference for them is what is most important to me."



 

Back in 2016, Wolfe had to be rushed to the emergency room as her appendix was about to burst says reports. Thankfully, she recovered quickly and was now relatively calm knowing that her private insurance plan and Veteran Affairs benefits would cover the whole thing. Now, most of her hospital bill (over $20,000) was covered by her private plan and the remaining amount of about $2,500 was supposed to be reimbursed by the VA. However, she received a rude shock when they denied her claim leaving her in a financial predicament. 



 

So, she paid off the remaining amount in 2017 but didn't plan on accepting this without putting up a fight. And ever since then she has been fighting to get the reimbursement that she truly deserved. And finally, her case made its way to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims this year. According to a recent six-month period, August reports, the department denied the claims of around 17,400 veterans forcing them to pay $53 millions out of their pockets. The executive director for the National Veterans Legal Services Program, Bart Stichman, said, "The Court’s decision rights a terrible injustice and its order ensures that veterans who were unjustly denied reimbursement for critical emergency treatment at non-VA facilities will finally be reimbursed." Now, Wolfe's case was just the second of its kind which was granted the status of a class action by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. 



 

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