Posts Tagged ‘health care’

VA Health care safe from reform – White House to vets

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

White House to vets: VA health care safe from reform
In a last-minute effort to calm the nerves of skeptical military veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs said Thursday night that its health care system would remain untouched by ongoing reform efforts.

“The secretary of veterans affairs would continue to maintain sole authority over the system and for enhancing the quality and access for all eligible veterans,” VA Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth wrote on the White House blog Thursday night. The Pentagon’s TRICARE program would also continue as normal, she said.

“Those who are covered by TRICARE would meet the shared responsibility requirement for individuals to have insurance, thereby exempting such members of the uniformed services and dependents from being assessed any sort of penalty,” Duckworth wrote.

The White House and Congressional Democrats have fought back for months against claims by Republicans — most notably Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) during his election campaign — that current health-care legislation would scale back or cut the military health care program. Such claims are a big concern, especially for elderly vets.

In her blog post Duckworth said VA frequently hears from veterans concerned about the fate of the VA health-care system. Indeed The Eye watched her field such questions during an October meeting with older veterans in Virginia.

Proposed Budget Increases for Veterans’ Care

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Veterans Affairs Employee Union Applauds Proposed Increases for Veterans’ Care
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today, the American Federation of Government Employees and its National VA Council applauded the White House’s proposed funding increases for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The White House’s proposed fiscal year 2011 budget provides $57 billion in funding for the VA. For more than two decades, AFGE, which represents over 180,000 employees in the VA, has joined veterans’ groups in calling for full funding of veterans’ services.

The release of this year’s budget is an especially momentous occasion for veterans and its dedicated workforce. The FY 2011 budget marks the first two-year funding cycle for the VA health care system. On October 22, 2009, AFGE stood proudly with veterans’ groups at the White House signing of Public Law 111-81, funding reform legislation that ensures more predictable, adequate funding for VA health care by authorizing Congress to providing health care dollars one year ahead of time through advance appropriations. For the first time in the history of the VA’s budget, this year, the President’s budget request includes health care funds for two years.

“We applaud President Obama for standing by his commitment to veterans’ health care needs,” said J. David Cox, AFGE National Secretary Treasurer and retired VA Nurse. “VA hospitals, clinics and long term care facilities can finally count on getting the dollars they need for timely hiring, equipment purchases and construction.” Funding reform, which was supported by the president when he was a Senator, will put an end to yearly shortfalls and supplemental funding bills.

AFGE and its National VA Council have been longtime advocates for mandatory funding of the VA, an approach widely supported by the veterans’ community. AFGE with the nine veterans’ groups comprising the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform endorsed advanced appropriations as an alternative funding approach that is achievable in the short term. “Yearly funding delays were driving up costs by requiring the VA to turn to more and more contract care from providers not specializing in veterans’ health care needs, fraying the fabric of VA’s world class health care system,” said Cox. “Finally, the VA health care system is on the right track.”

AFGE is also very pleased the administration has dedicated a substantial amount of resources towards the unique needs of women veterans, as well as dedicating $800 million towards tackling homelessness among veterans. “For years our military has been strengthened by the contributions of female members of the armed services. We are especially pleased that the administration has recognized that the 21st Century VA must be responsive to their needs,” said Cox. “Likewise, in a nation as rich and grateful as ours, no veteran should ever be condemned to homelessness. This budget reflects those commitments and we commend the President for it.”

The American Federation of Government Employees is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including over 180,000 workers

SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees

Emergerncy Care Fairness Act

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Chairman Akaka introduced Senate bill to cover gaps in emergency care for veterans with limited insurance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) today praised President Barack Obama’s signing of the Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2009.

“For veterans with limited insurance, a trip to the emergency room should not result in financial ruin,” said Chairman Akaka, who introduced the bill in the Senate last year. “With this new law, VA will be positioned to help veterans who are enrolled in VA care whose insurance does not cover the full cost of emergency treatment.” The Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act, signed into law by President Obama last night, will enable the Department of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans enrolled in VA health care for the remaining cost of emergency treatment if the veteran has outside insurance that only covers part of the cost. Previously, VA could reimburse veterans or pay outside hospitals directly only if a veteran has no outside health insurance.

In addition to reimbursing veterans for emergency care in the future, the bill allows the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide retroactive reimbursements for care received prior to the passage of this bill. Akaka has received correspondence from veterans who were unable to receive financial assistance under the previous rules, and plans to share their information with Secretary Shinseki.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this legislation will cover approximately 700 future claims per year and as many as 2,000 veterans retroactively.


Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2009 (Introduced in Senate)

S 404 IS


1st Session

S. 404

To amend title 38, United States Code, to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for emergency treatment furnished in a non-Department facility, and for other purposes.


February 10, 2009

Mr. AKAKA (for himself and Mr. BURRIS) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs


To amend title 38, United States Code, to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for emergency treatment furnished in a non-Department facility, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2009′.


(a) Expansion of Eligibility- Subsection (b)(3)(C) of section 1725 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking `, in whole or in part,’.

(b) Limitations on Reimbursement- Such section 1725 is further amended–

(1) in subsection (c), by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

`(4)(A) If the veteran has contractual or legal recourse against a third party that would, in part, extinguish the veteran’s liability to the provider of the emergency treatment and payment for the treatment may be made both under subsection (a) and by the third party, the amount payable for such treatment under such subsection shall be the amount by which the costs for the emergency treatment exceed the amount payable or paid by the third party, except that the amount payable may not exceed the maximum amount payable established under paragraph (1)(A).

`(B) In any case in which a third party is financially responsible for part of the veteran’s emergency treatment expenses, the Secretary shall be the secondary payer.

`(C) A payment in the amount payable under subparagraph (A) shall be considered payment in full and shall extinguish the veteran’s liability to the provider.

`(D) The Secretary may not reimburse a veteran under this section for any copayment or similar payment that the veteran owes the third party or for which the veteran is responsible under a health-plan contract.’; and

(2) in subsection (f)(3)–

(A) in subparagraph (A), by inserting before the period at the end the following: `, including the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.) and the Medicaid program under title XIX of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.)’; and

(B) in subparagraph (B), by inserting before the period at the end the following: `, including a State Medicaid agency with respect to payments made under a State plan for medical assistance approved under title XIX of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.)’.

(c) Effective Date-

(1) IN GENERAL- The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to emergency treatment furnished on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(2) REIMBURSEMENT FOR TREATMENT BEFORE EFFECTIVE DATE- The Secretary may provide reimbursement under section 1725 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by subsection (a) and (b) for emergency treatment furnished before the date of the enactment of this Act if the Secretary determines that, under the circumstances applicable with respect to the veteran, it is appropriate to do so.