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The War on Emergency Health Care Costs

Monday, November 19, 2018

A new class-action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs is currently underway as more than 700,000 veterans fight their eligibility for reimbursements of unpaid medical bills relating to emergency health care. The fight, which has been in the works for over eight years between VA and veteran advocates, is the first of its kind since a federal court ruling in August allowed veterans to file lawsuits against the department as a class, rather than individuals. The lawsuit, brought on after the VA executed a regulation rewrite, grants the VA ability to avoid reimbursement of all non-VA emergency health care costs that their own insurance plans failed to pay in full. This changed saved the VA billions of dollars, while leaving veterans to foot the bill.

It was not until October 30th when the non-profit National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) filed a new class-action lawsuit with the appellate court in Washington, D.C. The lead plaintiff is Coast Guard veteran, Amanda Wolfe, who underwent an emergency appendectomy in late 2016 at a hospital close to her home, rather than a VA Medical Center over three hours away. Wolfe’s private-sector insurance covered about $20,000 in medical costs but left her with a remaining balance of $2,500, which VA officials refused to pay claiming the costs were associated with deductibles, copayments, and other fees, which they stated were her responsibility. Wolfe joins thousands of other veterans who have faced denied claims since the regulation was released last January.

It is now in the hands of court officials to determine whether the arguments brought forth by the NVLSP is warranted. This change could leave the VA with emergency room costs in the tens of billions of dollars should they lose this battle, a change which may adversely harm medical care for the entire department.

If you or a loved one was affected by the regulations released by the VA in January, and believe you also may be affected by any changes, please contact the lawyers at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco, and Rosasco. Should the NVLSP win this class-action suit, you could be positively affected and may be entitled to reimbursement of your denied claims.

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