VA now says veterans do not need to check in with VA prior to reporting to non-VA emergency room facilities during an emergency. But the wording in the video is slippery with a lot of hedging language that should lead any veteran to proceed with caution.

RELATED: VA Nonpayment Scandal Exposed

Some of you may remember last year I exposed a massive scandal through KARE 11 News with AJ Lagoe that the agency was wrongly denying veterans coverage for emergency room visits from non-VA emergency room visits.

RELATED: Congress Demands Answers For Wrongful ER Bill Denials

The agency’s program for non-VA care at emergency rooms implicates over $1 billion per year in payments and denials. Around 100,000 veterans are impacted annually.

I reposted VA’s content for you here to review and give feedback. It was published by the VA Office of Community Care.

What do you think? Is this enough information? Will VA stop roadblocking veterans with red tape after emergencies?

RELATED: VA Fraud Exposed By GAO Expert

Kare 11 Krause Story

VAntage Point Non-VA Emergency Room Post

During a medical emergency, Veterans should immediately seek care at the nearest medical facility. A medical emergency is an injury, illness or symptom so severe that without immediate treatment, you believe your life or health is in danger. If you believe your life or health is in danger, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department (ED) right away. 

Veterans do not need to check with VA before calling for an ambulance or going to an ED. During a medical emergency, VA encourages all Veterans to seek immediate medical attention without delay. A claim for emergency care will never be denied based solely on VA not receiving notification prior to seeking care.

In general, VA can pay for emergency medical care at a local ER for a Veteran’s service-connected condition, or if the care is related to a Veteran’s service-connected condition. VA can also pay for emergency medical care for a Veteran’s non-service connected condition.

However, there are specific requirements in federal law and regulation that detail the conditions for eligibility for both service-connected and non-service connected conditions.

Eligibility requirements notwithstanding, Veterans should always seek care at the nearest medical facility during a medical emergency, and never delay emergency medical care.

Here’s more information on emergency care.

Here are some comments from views of the video:

N Ex 1 week ago (edited)

Uninsured veterans should get at least the same payment coverage as Medicare would provide… Not just 70%. This potentially sticks the Vet with a large bill, one that wouldn’t exist if they could make it to the VA hospital. With this in mind, a lot of Vets who think they can, will try to make it to a VA facility even when there are private care facilities closer. Vets shouldn’t have to worry about this. Many will take risks to make it to the VA because they are afraid they will be stuck with a large bill.. even if VA pays some of it. Not good.

cntrygal2007 1 month ago

Ridiculous!  More hoops to jump through.  Not all veterans have a VA hospital around the corner.  Ours is ONE HOUR away!  If my husband is experiencing chest pain and the VA hospital is ONE HOUR away, VA should pay for the ENTIRE bill and NOT have stipulations that need to be met.  Provide more VA ER facilities then, Veterans Health Administration, so our veterans can focus on taking care of themselves and not how many hoops they must jump through or are they going to be able to afford emergency non-VA care!!

Butsaraporn Van Dermark 1 week ago

To Bad that the VA’s Foreign Medical Program fails to follow the VA’s own statements on this. They pay nothing at all and deny all claims for emergency medical care outside the States.

Amedeo Lauria 2 weeks ago

cntrygal2007 – Look close. This generally applies to veterans who are “enrolled” in VA Healthcare. I was a VSO, please watch the entire video; yes it is very complicated. I dealt with third party hospital billing all the time. Some I could get fixed, some I couldn’t. Veterans enrolled in VA Heathcare need to ask questions about how this works where they are BEFORE, they need Non-VA emergency care.

holidayrick 5 days ago

I was sent to the hospital and the VA sent me by 911 and I got the bill. Others the VA says they were not responsible. So now I have to drive 11/2 hours to a VA hospital to get my care without a bill coming to me

T Allen 6 days ago

Listen carefully to the wording! “can”, “can”, “can”, “might”, equals don’t count on it without a lot of fighting and a lawyer. Dealing with the VA is like trying to get health care from an insurance company. The idea is to get veterans to not use it. It is a good business model for their bottom line. The more vets that would rather die than participate the more money they make. There is a special place in hell for this Gov bureaucracy.

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18 Comments

  1. Really? Same ole horseschit wrapped in a pretty package.The VA I go to is 30 miles away (As the crow flies).It’s only open half the time. I live on a mountain so if it’s snowing,forget it. I’m lucky to have a volunteer fire dept. up here with a small med. team. I trust them over the VA anytime.At least they’ll get me down the hill.

  2. I also read a lot of “can”, “can”, and “mights” in the language…this is the VA’s Improvised Explosive Devices incorporated in any new directives…

    This is nothing but gold foil wrappers on the huge steaming pile of shit called the VA…window dressing for Memorial Day…all for the Vets…*but* mainly *for* the huge steaming smokescreen to keep the game-on fooling the American Public that all is just fucking swell at the cesspool.

    Maybe someone should interview Sen. John McCain while he’s still around, 60 Minutes maybe, specifically to ask McCain just WHY he did not use his illness to help clean-up the VA for his…fellow Vets?

    ~~~~~~crickets~~~~~~ (crickets redirect attention to McCain at the Mayo Clinic…not the VA)

  3. “Can can can” for public consumption but in small groups like with the Choice card… no no no no, never us it. Maybe some ‘identity politicking’ applies. Even if you’re having a heart attack, in a car wreck with broken legs… (insanely) ‘drive to the Indy VA ER for care.’ Never use civilian care again, period. Drive that hundred miles when dying or dead. What utter BS and nonsense. While VSOs, politicians, PAs, to media run for cover and refuse to get involved or join in to play the game too. Their public relations firms, the SES/AFGE/VA/DC down, and the rest must be putting in some over-time to appease the flocks.

    VA or civvy care we don’t need to hear constantly about “hire an attorney,” phony claims of what we may be able to do, having to cut through a bunch of red tape to investigations ie like for doctor or pill shopping or criminal history, hassles to endless paperwork, etc. Then on to the crap the VA (others) barfs out in public but far different behind closed doors or in some specially picked out group of vets, from … how some others are treated or the public led to believe. Same shit different day/year.

    With all the censoring going on, the fears, plus all the corruption to total disconcern I doubt we will really know how this new claim will turn out. “60 Minutes” and all others won’t dare touch my issues let alone ask McCluck McCain anything about his care or the quality care our Congress critters get. Should all be the same, why not? So much for that ‘equality’ and perfectly fine American living.

  4. Any VA “policy” that does not include mandatory language in place of the smoke show is not a policy that should ever be trusted or relied upon, as it provides all manner of wiggle room for the government to weasel out of their obligations to us.

  5. I would be more assured of their intentions if the word “can” is struck from this and the words “Shall” or “will” is replaced in its stead.

    • that is exactly what mandatory language is. Shall. Will. Must. Are the top 3 explicit ones I get off the top of my head.

  6. Had 5 ER visits. Black Hills VA paid them all. It partly depends upon your regional VA. And how they are logged. BH VA is considered “extremely rural” and gets a larger budget per vet for ER care.

  7. #shutthevadown
    #fucktheva
    #fuckafge
    #fuckcongress-if they can’t see what they’re doing to veterans!

  8. Ben-

    I’ve been researching this since the first time you posted this. Here’s what I have to contribute; if the veteran is service connected & is being seen in the ER for the service connected condition- VA’s criteria dictates the bill will be paid by VA.

    I know that doesn’t help everyone, but there are vets that it will help like Service Connected Mental Health vets who are in crisis & live a ways away from VA.

    1-877-222-VETS (Community Care Office)
    Title 38 subscript 1728 & 17.120-132

  9. More proof that the Government/VA just wants us disabled Veterans to die!! Since we are no longer able to be pawns in the Governments games of war sh%t! They would rather do even less for us and keep the money for the useless idiot bureaucratized so called leaders of the VA. By killing off more and more of us!!!!!!! We gave destroyed our bodies and minds for our country so we shouldn’t have to pay for anything ever again!!!! HOOAH

    • Matthew, yes we gave. But it was for our families too. Yes, war changes a person and destroys many. However, I sort of appreciate the opportunity and dignity to pay for some things. When out of work, certainly any vet should be able to get care. However, if able to work and is working, gee the $$ will go much farther if a veteran is required to carry primary ins. and VA pays the other 20%. Additionally, the waste I see is somewhat disheartening. True, America is not perfect, but is there any other country that you would rather defend? I agree that the VA is a bureaucracy. Having been in private business all of my life, the waste is sickening.

  10. This is nuts and not that unusual coming from VA and its double speak. Like the first comment…that happened on our end…vet more afraid of collections coming after him than going to local ER when not trusting VA to cover. Our son comes to our house…doesn’t realize his face is drooping…side of face frozen… until I see it and ask…what is wrong with your face? It’s a weekend and no local available VA…VAMC an hour away although it’s less than those 40 miles…driving on the highway…still an hour away on a good day. He calls the VA # for after hour and when gives details…vet is told to go to local ER ASAP as he could be having a stroke. Instead, vet has his gf drive him to VA ER an hour away because, no, he can’t afford an extra issue, even if the situation calls for it. No trust in VA, including after hours person…nothing we could do to alleviate that further concern…been there…done that…recommended to gf if he gets worse, get off the highway…go to any ER or call 911. OMG, the whole distrust of the “system” is nuts! They make it to VA ER where he is diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, no stroke, thankfully…what a chance taken. After all was said, done, and treated…vet checks his medical file in a couple of days…there it is from after hours person in writing…”vet was recommended to go to nearest ER for possible stroke symptoms…vet was informed that the cost may not be covered by VA (paraphrased without the note in front of me at the moment).” Nice…NOT…considering that was not said to the vet who had the call on speaker…nothing about VA may not cover. After the fact, not so sure VA would have considered Bell’s Palsy an emergency and how are non-medical people supposed to know? Bunch of bull to make it look like they give a damn when they DON’T. The added note, a LIE, was an unnecessary “nail to that coffin.”

  11. I have varicose veins since about my first year in service, which developed to both legs since then. The VA refuses to service connect anything other than a very small portion of this varicose veins in a very isolated part of just one leg. I ONLY receive medical care through the VA and am unemployed, yet only rated at 60%.

    I have been warned numerous times by VA doctors of the increased risk of blood clots because of the varicose veins. I have never received any type of education by the VA in regards what to look out for or for warning signs for these blood clots!

    Last year, (I believe), in my leg which is NOT rated, over a section of my thigh which has spider veins. I developed a lump about the size of a nickel or a quarter which was very painful while undressing to go to bed.

    My wife demanded that I have this checked out because she believed that this was a blood clot. We do not have a medical education, so we do not know either way. Do I risk my life and wait or do I go to the ER to have this checked out?

    Problem, I live 56.8 miles aways from the nearest VA Hospital, it is about 11 PM, pitch dark and a really bad storm, high winds and tons of rain, greatly reducing the poor visibility of the road even on a good night. Under good conditions, the trip takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours. At this point we were about one third of the way and it has already taken us more time to drive because of this storm. What should have taken about thirty-five minutes or so, took us well over an hour. Most of the time, we were forced to drive at less than half the posted speed!

    We had a choice to make. We were just a little distance from the last hospital before the “last hour’s worth of driving time” at the posted speed of 65 MPH for about half that distance. We have been going at about 20 to 35 MPH most of the time so far. If we continue at the speed that we had been driving, it would take another two hours to get there, perhaps more. Assuming that there were no flooding or downed trees, branches or power lines along the way!

    What would you do if you were in our shoes?

    We went to the nearest hospital and presented our proper cards, etc.

    Low and behold, after quite some time I was informed that the VA denied my claim, it was not an emergency!

    It was pure hell getting any information the first few attempts of whom I should speak to. Each and every time, Denied!

    Finally I had a breakthrough and actually receive some good information regard who I should talk to. At that time I filed am appeal, explaining the entire situation.

    Of course, it took several truck loads of more time to discover the final results of that appeal.

    This time, the nature of the ER visit was approved. However, the Claim was once again denied because it ran out of time to appeal it!

    I wished this was my worst experience with the VA.

    Now a-days, I must be pretty desperate just to go for the VA for anything.

  12. Hell, in 2016 my VA, thru HealthNet Federal Services, sent me to a civilian Hospital for spinal surgery. They arranged EVERYTHING, all appointments and everything. Needless to say, VA refused to pay because the hospital and Neurosurgeon failed to put their claim in the way VA wanted. $104,000. They, the civilians, are suing me!!. They did file claim with Medicare. Medicare paid about $1,200. They want the rest from me. Collection agency just sent me a letter telling me they are going to report to the Credit Bureaus. I told them to Sue me, All I Got Is My Ass and My Hat. Ant they BOTRH got holes in them. Seems like I should be able to sue VA for causing me all this distress and worry. BEN, What you think I should Do ?????

  13. Bullllcrap… I even tried to get permission a few times, for SERVICE CONNECTED issues that brought me to the ER and the VA still stuck me with the bill….

  14. As a disabled veteran I have experienced many of the same issues. I want nothing to do with the VHA, and being forced to utilize that inefficient/illequipped health system (even in part), especially when complicated emergency medical conditions arise (or aftercare) has been pure nightmare. The whole process vets have to go through should be illegal or against some sort of healthcare standards of care. The VHA does not get chance after chance go around as their limited doctor pool rotates in/out of the payroll. If my non-military neighbor was told he/she HAD to go to a certain medical facility & would be assigned a primary care doctor based on their gender/race/etc, take it or leave it with no say…they’d say no way! or if they were forced to see a pcp to begin with, when you know you need to go to a specialist. Why in the world is the VHA allowed to operate like the old HMOs? Why are doctors and administrators! in the VHA system working on a bonus system?!

    My non-military neigbnors – including illegals! have FAR FAR more choices for their healthcare. It is ethically and morally wrong that veterans cannot voluntarily seek out their own medical providers!!! VHA is OUTDATED and VHA medical providers are NOT held accountable; most are just crunching #s to get volumes through. (I cant tell you how many times providers dont review any of my medical history before seeing me. Aside Im almost never examined). No veteran should ever be railroaded into VHA. All veterans should be able to go anywhere, at minimum, that medicare is accepted. Can you imagine if you told a random black man on the street, from now on he has to go to the black heathcare center from now on and would have zero choice who his doctor would be & he would only get one who will “filter” everything (whether a specialist or not…)? Being a veteran is like a current form of segregation. The general public has no idea the depth of the mess and corruption of the VHA at its core. VHA medical providers type whatever they want into a veterans medical record to cover their butts and often out of incompetence. However a veteran has to go through pain in the rump process to get removed or corrected.

    My credit will take years and years to repair itself because of medical bills that VHA has still yet pay (takes years in many cases of those that medical providers dont write-off & send to collections to begin with).
    In the interum, even with income I am forced to live in either overpriced small apartments that are not ADA or my vehicle because I cannot get a home loan.

    The President needs to remove the restrictions placed on veterans healthcare in this country & immediately. Once veterans are authorized to seek reasonable medical care, of their choosing, anywhere they see fit (like other non-veteran americans or illegals), then Id bet you’d find most of the VHAs emptying out.

    Im fed up and tired of being treated like s#i#! VHA gets no more chances with my healthcare. Im not a medical experiment or learning aid!!

    President Trump, give honorably discharged veterans an access card (like medicare) to obtain medical care anywhere medicare is accepted & allow these community medical providers to get PROMPTLY paid with NO red tape so they will want to help veterans. Unlike Mayo who wont outside of an emergency. Ridiculous and Americans shod be ashamed.

  15. I live in a very large city with a very large VA Hospital.If you have an emergency,the local EMS will NOT take you to the VA Emergency room(they tell me that this VA is not really a true emergency room(3 to 4 nurses on duty and 1 emergency doctor),they will take you to the local county hospital(level 1 trauma center) or the local military hospital(level 1 trauma center). So,if you need to go by EMS,you will not go to the VA Hospital. Additionally,just exactly who are you supposed to notify at the local VA Hospital in an emergency? That would be nice to know.

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