Removing Extraneous Loopholes Insuring Every Veteran Emergency Act

Floor Speech

Date: March 7, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BERGMAN. Mr. Speaker, as a veteran and member of both the Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs Committees, assisting those in uniform as they transition from military service into civilian life and VA care is one of my top priorities.

Too often we see veterans get lost in the cracks of bureaucracy, and they fail to receive the healthcare they deserve through the VA or are facing unfair penalties while attempting to navigate life after their military service.

While we have made tremendous strides to improve veteran access to healthcare through the VA Community Care program, significant coverage gaps remain, and more improvements must be made by Congress.

Under current law, a veteran must have received health services at a VA facility within the past 2 years to be approved for retroactive coverage for emergency treatment through the Community Care program. This ignores the reality that it often takes more than a month for veterans to complete their first appointment at a VA facility following their enrollment in VA health.

This creates a gap in coverage that can force crippling debt onto a recently separated servicemember who is seeking emergency care. No veteran should have to second-guess whether they should go to the emergency room due to bureaucratic mismanagement of their care coverage.

The bipartisan RELIEVE Act would address this gap in coverage by giving veterans a 60-day grace period after they are enrolled in VA health to complete their first doctor's appointment. During those 60 days, veterans will still be covered for emergency care at non-VA facilities, eliminating the gap, and ensuring veterans can receive the care they need without the worry of surprise bills.

I am proud to join Representatives McMorris Rodgers and Pappas in introducing this important and commonsense legislation again this Congress. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of its passage.