« Back to

Proposal to Keep Veterans from Getting Stuck with the Bill

May 05, 2016
FROM:     Mike Coffman, U.S. Representative, 6th District of Colorado
RE:         Coffman Proposal to Keep Veterans from Getting Stuck with the Bill for Emergency Transportation

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) has introduced legislation to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) quickly reimburses emergency response ambulance providers who provide life-care to our nation’s veterans.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Representatives Charles Boustany (R-LA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Ralph Abraham (R-LA), and Mark Takano (D-CA).

The bill would make it clear that VA should reimburse emergency ambulance providers after transporting eligible VA-enrolled veterans if a “prudent layperson” would reasonably believe that a delay in emergency care would be life threatening. 

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee received testimony at a hearing held last summer on how VA’s bureaucratic claims payment processes can often hurt veterans, who may become personally liable for the ambulance bills when VA doesn’t pay providers promptly. 

In testimony provided to the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health, Debora M. Gault, National Vice President of Federal Reimbursements & Regulatory Affairs for American Medical Response reported, “Small ambulance providers are hesitant to enter into any service agreements to provide service to these VA facilities when they know they won’t receive timely reimbursement. This is beginning to cause access issues for veterans in many areas of the country.” Gault continued, “When the VA does not pay claims, veterans can be held responsible.”

A recent Government Accountably Office review also found that VA lagged far behind Medicare and TRICARE in timely claims processing.

The experience of a Sixth Congressional District constituent underscored the need for legislation. A World War II veteran experienced a ruptured aorta and received emergency treatment and transport to the hospital. The veteran was hounded by collection agencies because VA did not cover emergency treatment. “Only after my office contacted the VA and asked for a case review did this veteran receive resolution on his case,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran.

“What’s unacceptable to me is that a veteran might get these bills referred to a collection agency because VA can’t get it’s act together on claims payments.  My proposal makes it clear proper claims should be paid quickly, and consistent with industry standards,” continued Coffman.

“No veteran should have to worry that the VA’s bureaucratic incompetence could jeopardize their health or cost them their financial security. Veterans in my district in Louisiana have had their personal credit rating threatened because of the VA’s delinquency in paying its bills on time. I’m proud to offer this common-sense solution with Rep. Coffman to ensure the VA keeps its promises to our veterans,” said Rep. Charles Boustany, M.D. (R-LA)

“We must ensure timely reimbursements for private companies providing emergency services for veterans in Southern Nevada.  All because of an out-of-date system, too many of our veterans are put in financial peril. This legislation will ensure that veterans are not held liable for reimbursements that should be processed more quickly by the VA,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)

"Our veterans have put their lives on the line for us in combat. So when their lives are on the line in a medical emergency, the VA should do the right thing and pay the ambulance bill," said Rep. Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R-LA)

"When a veteran faces an emergency medical situation their only concern should be making a full and speedy recovery," said Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA). "They deserve the best care possible and they shouldn’t be left holding the bill."

A Marine Corps combat veteran, Coffman serves on the House Armed Services Committee and House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Guaranteed cash flow during transition.