Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a disabled veteran and has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades.

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Driving Veterans to Bankruptcy and Suicide, Game Playing over Emergency Care


…by Gordon Duff, Senior Editor

If a veteran who receives all his medical care from the VA as more and more do each year, needs emergency care, they either go to a VA hospital emergency room, for me that requires driving to another state, or goes local.

For all but an elite few, the VA refuses to pay even though the telephone recording at the VA medical centers advises using non-VA emergency care.  Veterans are faced with staggering bills because of this deception or they simply know the truth and die without needed emergency care, what I believe is intended by congress.

I am a combat disabled veteran, rated “Permanent and Total” by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The processing of this claim began in 1970 and was completed in 2003.  Several refiles and appeals were done in the interim and the processing time on my full claim can be timed, minimally, at 12 years.

Few veterans can work their way through this nightmare with many remaining “total/unemployable/temporary” or with partial disabilities up to 95%.

The language below from the VA website is the most repulsive expression of ‘weasel words’ possible.  The VA only may pay “if permitted” to only total and permanently disabled veterans and then only for specific things.

What does this mean?

Veterans who need care first have to have a diagnosis so they can legally prove that their emergency condition falls under the categories the VA covers in their individual case based on what the VA means by “aggravation” and what diseases are “service connected,” something no human can answer.

A law license is helpful also.

Mind you, this is for emergency care.  The result of these policies is the usual, don’t get sick, not in America anyway, or economic life for you and your family may be over unless you are one of the few with real health insurance.  Damned few Americans have real health insurance, something they only find out when the bills come in and the sheriff is on the porch to throw them out of their homes.

Non-VA emergency medical care

Emergency care of service-connected conditions

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is permitted under Title 38 United State Code (U.S.C.) § 1728 to make payment or reimbursement to a claimant for emergency treatment provided to a Veteran with a VA-adjudicated, service-connected (SC) condition, a nonservice-connected (NSC) disability associated with and held to be aggravating a service-connected condition, or any condition of a Veteran, if total disability is permanent in nature from a service-connected disability, or for a Veteran participating in a Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program.

There is a timely filing limit for unauthorized inpatient or outpatient medical care claims. Claims must be submitted within two years from the date of care.

Individual eligibility determinations are difficult, and therefore outside the scope of this general information. Please contact your local VA health care facility for individual Veteran eligibility questions or concerns.


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Posted by on February 1, 2016, With 1013 Reads Filed under Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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2 Responses to "Driving Veterans to Bankruptcy and Suicide, Game Playing over Emergency Care"

  1. Gordon Duff, Senior Editor  February 1, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    When pushed, the VA will pay, if the accident victim is permanent and total. I had a friend injured while we were on a memorial day run to DC. He was hit while we were in West Virginia.

    Getting the hospital bill paid took 6 months and tons of work, many hours. The accident, however, could be said to have been cause by PTSD meds affecting reaction times.

    Our goal is to give security to vets so they know they can be treated when they need it. Pre-planning emergencies is a bit of a bother.

    Then again, VA emergency care, which I have experienced twice, is far below civilian standards, based on my experiences at Ann Arbor.

  2. Dan  February 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I was under the impression that if a VA patient needs emergency care at a non-VA hospital, it’s covered. When I needed an post-MRI orthopedic consultation last year after a cycling accident, I said only that several months wait seemed a bit long, and the VA unhesitatingly offered me three civilian doctors I could see instead if I wanted. I’d guess the level of care varies around the country. At Yale/New Haven-VA it’s excellent. Down in Florida, it’s still very good. Much nicer people in both places than in the civilian hospitals I’ve been in when dealing with family members’ final illnesses. Thanks to both Gordon and Alan for this critical heads that could have devastating financial consequences for ourselves and families.

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