Bishop throws support behind veterans reimbursement legislation

Mar. 8—WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Sanford D. Bishop Jr. announced his support Wednesday for passage of H.R. 815, the Removing Extraneous Loopholes Insuring Every Veteran Emergency (RELIEVE) Act. This bill allows the Veterans Affairs Department to reimburse veterans for the costs of emergency medical care received at non-VA medical facilities during the first 60 days of their enrollment in the VA's health care system.

"Our veterans should not be in limbo or second-guess seeking emergency medical care out of fear of costly medical bills when they enroll in the VA health care system," Bishop said in a news release. "This bill helps close the gap between enrollment and qualifying for coverage and goes a long way toward ensuring that our veterans avoid medical debt for seeking emergency care that they need."

Upon entering the VA Health System, veterans would have 60 days to complete their first doctor's appointment. Emergency care at non-VA facilities will be insured during that time, and once a veteran completes their first appointment, they will qualify for regular coverage under the VA's 24-month rule, eliminating an otherwise potential gap in coverage when they first enter the VA system.

Should the bill become law, reimbursement authority would become effective one year after enactment.