Friday, February 16, 2018

This is what "Choice" did to veterans...choosing dying over debt?

7 Investigates: Veteran: Even after law change, veterans fearing medical debt choosing dying over ER
WSAW 7 News
By Matthew Simon
Feb 15, 2018
"Why would it be so hard to take healthcare reform, strike out the notion veterans don't deserve the same rights as every other American?” Zehrung asked. “You don't have to give me a handout. You don't have to revise the entire Veterans Administration. All you have to do is allow me to buy health insurance and I will pay for it myself."

PITTSVILLE, Wis. (WSAW) – A disabled Pittsville Gulf War veteran says the risk of medical bill debt is still too great to go to his closest ER during an emergency. That’s despite the Veteran Administration recently changing how the agency will pay some non-VA emergency bills.

"This can't take forever and a day,” Jerry Zehrung said. “Because every day this legislation is delayed is another day another veteran has to ask themselves should I go to the ER or should I wait. And some of these decisions, you're not going to convince me, aren't costing veterans their lives."

In January, the VA published their updated non-VA emergency payment rule, known as the Staab rule. It’s named after 85-year-old Minnesota Air Force veteran Richard Stabb, whose $48,000 emergency claim was denied by the VA because Medicare had paid a portion of his bill.

A House Veterans Affairs Committee spokesperson says the Jan. 9, 2018 change only applies to veterans who have extra insurance, and at the same time, are only seeking care for an emergency not associated with a military service injury, like Staab.

The rule change means nothing has changed for veterans like Zehrung, who only have VA provided insurance, or those who think they need emergency help because of an injury received while serving.

“When you have something like this case that comes up, and you have a lot of veterans that get together, and they commingle and they talk, and their spouses talk, and word gets out there's a chilling effect. I’m going to avoid any hospitalization or care unless I'm absolutely on my death bed because I don't want to be saddled with the extra cost of care," Jacqueline Schuh, the lawyer behind the lawsuit that led to the Staab rule’s implementation, said.
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