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Congress Passes VA Prompt Payment Language

August 1, 2014
AAA Member Advisory
TO:          AAA Membership
FROM:      Tristan North, AAA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs
RE:           Congress Passes VA Prompt Payment Language

Last night, the United States Senate passed by a vote of 91 to 3, legislation to improve the access of veterans to medical services from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The House had passed the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (HR 3230) on July 30 by a vote of 420 to 5. H.R. 3230 now goes to the President who has stated he will sign the bill. The legislation is the result of recent headlines regarding the problems facing veterans in getting timely health care by VA facilities.

Section 105 of the conference report to H.R. 3230 includes provisions designed to ensure prompt payment of non-VA providers and to require the VA Secretary to comply with the federal Prompt Payment Act. It also directs the VA Secretary to establish and implement a system to process and pay claims for payment for hospital care, medical services, and other health care including ambulance services furnished by non-VA health care providers. Further, authority to pay for services is transferred from the Veterans Integrated Service Network and VA medical centers to the Chief Business Office of the VA Health Administration. Finally, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is required to submit a report to Congress within one year of enactment regarding the timeliness of payments, which may include recommendations for additional legislative or administrative action.

AAA member Acadian Ambulance Service in Lafayette, Louisiana worked closely with a coalition of Louisiana health care providers to enlist the support of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Congressman Charles Boustany, Jr. MD (R-LA) to introduce language to require prompt payment by the VA. Much of the key pieces of that legislation was included in the final conference report of H.R. 3230. AAA member American Medical Response of Greenwood Village, Colorado was also instrumental in the effort. The final language resulted from negotiations and support by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL).

The AAA has heard from several members about a significant delay in payments from the VA for services provided to veterans and regularly communicated with representatives of Acadian and AMR on their successful efforts.

Todd Tuiten of the advocacy firm Akin Gump contributed to this Advisory.

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