Pappas Introduces Legislation to Streamline Veterans’ Coverage for Emergency Care During COVID-19

January 28, 2021
Press Release
The legislation to protect veterans during COVID-19 is the first bill introduced by Rep. Pappas this Congress

Today, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01),  who serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the Emergency Care for Veterans During COVID Act to protect New Hampshire veterans in the face of an unprecedented public health emergency. Pappas’s first piece of legislation of the 117th Congress would ensure that veterans can access emergency care without incurring massive medical bills during the coronavirus pandemic.

To ensure that veterans can continue to access life-saving care in their communities without fear that doing so could leave them with thousands of dollars in medical bills, this legislation will relax several existing requirements related to how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for emergency care. Among other things, this proposal ensures that VA payment will not be contingent upon whether community providers notified VA within 72 hours of providing emergency treatment to a veteran. It also ensures that VA is the primary payer in all cases, even when the veteran may have other health insurance, to relieve any up-front financial burdens.

“It is unacceptable that veterans have to jump through so many hoops to seek VA payments for life-saving emergency care in the midst of a pandemic,” Congressman Chris Pappas said.  “In the face of this public health emergency, we need to be taking steps to cut the red tape that our veterans and community providers are currently forced to navigate. It will ensure that our veterans can receive the emergency care they need without incurring costly medical bills and that community providers can obtain timely payments from VA. Whether a veteran is fighting to overcome COVID-19 or any other life-threatening condition, I will continue working to ensure that their needs are not overlooked in this midst of the pandemic.”  

Specifically, this legislation will: 

  • Grant prior authorization for any emergency care sought by veterans, including COVID-19-related diagnosis and treatment, and any other type of emergency, even retroactively to care received since the beginning of the public health emergency.  
  • Make VA the primary payer, even in cases where veterans may have other health insurance. 
  • Allow community providers to bill for this care up to 180 days after services were rendered.
  • Cover emergency ambulance transportation.

Read the full bill text here.