Friday, March 20, 2009

House Veterans' Panel Approves Bill That Would Cover Emergency Treatment at Non-VA Facilities

House Veterans' Panel Approves Bill That Would Cover Emergency Treatment at Non-VA Facilities

The House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health on Thursday by voice vote approved a bill (HR 1377) that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide reimbursement for emergency treatment received at hospitals not affiliated with VA, CQ Today reports. The bill, sponsored by House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chair Bob Filner (D-Calif.), would cover veterans who have private health insurance coverage but still have outstanding emergency-treatment bills. The measure does not require VA to cover veterans' copayments for emergency treatment. The subcommittee also adopted by voice vote an amendment by Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) that would make the measure effective on the date of enactment and allow the VA secretary to provide reimbursements for emergency treatment provided at non-VA facilities at any time before the date of enactment.

In related news, the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity approved by voice vote five other bills, three of which address issues related to medical training and education for veterans:

HR 228 would establish a scholarship program for students pursuing degrees or certificates in medical studies to help people with visual impairments. The annual scholarships would be worth between $15,000 and $45,000. The bill states that the program, which would require scholarship recipients to work at a VA hospital for three years, would be "subject to the availability of appropriations";

HR 466 would bar discrimination and reprisals against people who have developed illnesses, disabilities or injuries during their military service; and

HR 1088 would require newly appointed outreach specialists for disabled veterans and veterans' employment representatives to complete a year of special training (Johnson, CQ Today, 3/19).

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