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Bergman-Supported Bill to Expand Veteran Emergency Care Coverage Passes House by Unanimous Vote

Published: March 24, 2023

Washington, March 8, 2023

Last night, the U.S House of Representatives unanimously passed the Removing Extraneous Loopholes Insuring Every Veteran Emergency (RELIEVE) Act. This bipartisan legislation would eliminate a glaring gap in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s emergency care coverage and expand Veterans’ access to medical treatment.

Under current law, a Veteran must have received health services at a VA facility within the last 24 months in order to be covered under the Care in the Community Program. This protocol fails to account for the reality that it often takes more than a month for a Veteran to complete their first appointment, resulting in a critical gap in insurance coverage.

The RELIEVE Actwould waive the 24-month rule for 60 days after a Veteran enrolls in VA Health, giving them the time needed to establish care and prevent this from happening again.

The legislation was introduced by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5), Representative Bergman (MI-01), and Representative Chris Pappas (NH-01) on February 2, 2023.

Rep. Bergman stated, “While the Community Care program has made tremendous strides to improve Veteran access to healthcare, significant coverage gaps remain which threaten the health and financial livelihoods of our Veterans. The RELIEVE Act will address one of these significant gaps by extending coverage for non-VA emergency care for 60 days until a Veteran is able to have their first appointment at a VA facility. I’m grateful to my colleagues for approving this legislation in the House, and I look forward to continuing our work on behalf of our Nation’s Veterans.”

“The only thing scarier for a Veteran than a trip to the emergency room is finding out the VA won’t cover the cost because of a loophole in the system. Closing this coverage gap and ensuring Veterans can receive care when and where they need it most is critical,” said Rep. Rodgers. “The passage of this bill is a step in the right direction and brings us closer than ever before to achieving that goal.”

“It is unacceptable that Veterans have to jump through hoops to have their healthcare covered by VA, especially in the case of an emergency,” said Rep. Pappas. “No Veteran should ever think twice about seeking the care they need during an emergency, and no Veteran should be faced with costly medical bills due or bureaucratic challenges for receiving that care. Our bipartisan legislation would remove these barriers and ensure Veterans can receive the reimbursements they are due, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this legislation across the finish line this year.”

Click here to read the bill.