Smucker Introduces VA Accountability Bill

March 22, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, U.S. Reps. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) introduced a bill to relieve veterans of financial burdens caused by delays at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA Billing Accountability Act sets specific and immediate billing requirements so veterans do not receive unbilled co-payments for VA care from years past.

 “Our brave service men and women should not have to pay for errors or delays made by the VA,” Smucker said. “Our veterans and their families have sacrificed so much to protect our country and we should be doing all we can to make their transition to civilian life as easy as possible.”

“The men and women who dedicate their lives to defend the safety and freedoms of this nation deserve nothing but the best once they return home,” said Emmer. “It is our duty to make their lives easier, not more difficult and the VA Billing Accountability Act will help do just that. Through clearly defining timing and other VA billing requirements, we can bring more certainty and assurance to our nation’s veterans after they’ve returned to their civilian lives. I am proud to work with Congressmen Smucker and Peterson on this legislation and look forward to working with our colleagues towards its passage.”

“The VA needs to improve its communication with our veterans, especially regarding copayments related to medical services,” said Peterson. “Our veterans shouldn’t be waiting months, or even years, to receive critical information about the status of the benefits they have earned.”

Pennsylvania’s 11th District is home to more than 40,000 veterans. Over the last decade, federal oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs has uncovered thousands of cases where the VA delivered delayed or inaccurate co-payments to veterans, causing financial stress debt for military families. In one case, more than 1,500 veterans were blindsided when they received co-payment bills for VA care dating as far back as five years

The VA Billing Accountability Act authorizes the VA to waive the requirement that a veteran make co-payments for medication, hospital care, nursing home care, and medical services if:

  • an error committed by the VA or a VA employee caused delaying copayments notification to the veteran; and
  • the veteran received such notification more than 120 days (18 months in the case of a non-VA facility) after the date on which they received care or services

 

This legislation also grants authorizing power to the VA Secretary to eliminate requiring veterans make a co-payment if the VA does not abide by the billing timing mandates. The bill passed the House during the 115th Congress. 

“This bill will help bring our veterans more stability and financial security and I encourage my colleagues to pass it,” Smucker said.