Federal appeals court: VA to reimburse veterans for $6.5 billion in unpaid emergency medical bills

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(WSAW) -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) is ordering the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to reimburse veterans' emergency medical bills incurred at non-VA hospitals after the VA illegally blocked as much as $6.5 billion in reimbursements.

The ruling comes after the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of veterans Amanda Wolfe and Peter Boerschinger. It is a similar ruling to an appeal NVLSP filed in 2014 on behalf of veteran Richard Staab, a case 7 Investigates has extensively covered.

Staab went to a non-VA emergency room after he had a stroke and because Medicare covered part of the bill, the VA denied his $48,000 claim for medical reimbursement. In 2016, the CAVC ruled the VA's denial of Staab's reimbursement violated the Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2010 and they were required to make changes and reimburse for emergency costs that any other health insurance did not cover.

In 2018, the VA rolled out new regulation that essentially did the same thing. It denied coverage to veterans who already had some of their emergency medical bills covered by other insurance. Specifically, the VA listed deductibles and coinsurance as items not eligible for reimbursement.