AMU Emergency Management Health & Fitness Opinion Original Public Safety

Proposed Healthcare Legislation Would Help Veterans Handle High Ambulance Bills

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Healthcare policy in the United States is particularly complicated. It is not only impacted and influenced by numerous insurance company policies and billing policies, but also numerous ethical and political issues.

In the last few decades, many healthcare problems have arisen for American citizens on a regular basis. These issues show cracks in the system, demonstrating that healthcare is often too costly and burdens American citizens.

Recently, it became quite clear that American veterans faced high ambulance bills due to a bureaucratic problem in the healthcare system. However, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman, the representative for the 6th district of Colorado, is working to change this situation for the better.

Coffman’s New Healthcare Bill: the Veterans Reimbursement for Emergency Services Act

H.R. 1445, the Veterans Reimbursement for Emergency Ambulance Services Act (VREASA), is a legislative bill that Coffman introduced to Congress. Currently, veterans have a high emergency medical services bill if their insurance coverage is declined. Under some of the Department of Veterans Affairs rules, an ambulance bill isn’t necessarily covered.

According to Coffman, “It is absolutely unconscionable that our veterans [are] left with an unexpected ambulance bill after seeking emergency medical attention because of bureaucratic regulations at the VA. VREASA seeks to correct this and to make sure that paperwork doesn’t get in the way of proper medical care of our veterans.”

Policies are not perfect. However, Coffman’s new bill would close the healthcare insurance gap, making it possible for a veteran’s ambulance bill to be covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It is a small step to ensure that veterans receive more in the way of healthcare benefits than the system currently allows. For some veterans with medical emergencies needing immediate treatment, it could eliminate the difficult choice between delaying treatment of a life-threatening emergency and facing the cost of a high ambulance bill.

Allison G.S. Knox

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at the University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison works as an Intermittent Emergency Management Specialist in the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response. She also serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences, chair of Pi Gamma Mu’s Leadership Development Program and Assistant Editor for the International Journal of Paramedicine. Prior to teaching, Allison worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. She is an emergency medical technician and holds five master’s degrees.

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