By Tom Philpott
Veterans who flooded the Department of Veterans Affairs with reimbursement claims for private-sector emergency care, in the wake of their appeals court victory in the Staab case, have been getting misinformation from the VA that likely discourages them from appealing wrongly denied claims or from supplying the VA with follow-up documents to complete their claims.
That’s the contention of a new lawsuit filed Jan. 1 by attorneys led by the non-profit National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), which is trying to force the VA to heed the Staab decision and reimburse tens of thousands of veterans for non-VA emergency care that their own health insurance covered only in part.
As reported here in November, an initial lawsuit filed by the NVLSP, which is still pending, alleges VA wrongdoing on another issue related to Staab claimants. It contends that the VA wrote an implementing regulation for Staab last year in a way that still denies thousands of veterans non-VA emergency care reimbursements, and saves the VA billions of dollars, on precisely the type claim the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled that Congress has wanted the VA to pay since 2010.