Washington D.C.— This week Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored the VA Emergency Transportation Access Act to protect rural veterans’ access to quality, lifesaving emergency medical care and transportation.
A new rule from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is threatening veterans’ access to emergency medical transportation by reducing reimbursement for ground and air ambulances. As a result of lost VA revenue, ambulance providers may have to reduce services or bill veterans personally for the remaining cost of this transportation. These changes will have an outsized effect on rural veterans who depend on both land and air ambulances to access urgent care, which is often hundreds of miles away.
Cortez Masto’s legislation would bar the VA from enacting these changes unless they can ensure rural veterans will not be impacted.
“Every veteran deserves quality medical care, no matter where they live,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’ve heard from veterans across Nevada about how important it is to protect emergency transportation, and my legislation will make sure our rural veterans can continue to rely on timely access to these lifesaving services.”
Under the VA Emergency Transportation Access Act, VA must complete the following requirements before reducing reimbursement rates for emergency medical transportation services:
- Conduct a thorough review of the impact a change in rates would have on veterans’ access to care;
- Consult industry experts, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, appropriate VA experts, and Veterans Service Organizations when conducting the review;
- Develop a formal process of updating the rates that protects or expands veterans’ current access to emergency transportation; and
- Ensure the new rates reflect the actual costs of transportation.
This bipartisan legislation is led by Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and is supported by Wounded Warrior Project, Paralyzed Veterans of America, The American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
This bill builds on Senator Cortez Masto’s extensive work to support access to emergency ambulance services. She also leads the bipartisan Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act, which would extend and increase Medicare payments for emergency ambulances in rural and urban communities. Last year, Cortez Masto passed a law to make sure ambulance providers are adequately reimbursed for providing critical services.
Senator Cortez Masto is a champion for our service members and their families, as well as our veterans. Last year, Cortez Masto’s Brian Neuman Act was signed into law, removing roadblocks for disabled veterans accessing their benefits. She passed the PACT Act to ensure veterans suffering from toxic exposure in the line of duty get the medical care they need and worked across the aisle to get legislation helping veterans exposed to Agent Orange and expanding benefits for women veterans signed into law.