Newhouse Reintroduces Veterans Emergency Treatment Bill

January 12, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced, H.R. 476, the Veterans Emergency Treatment (VET) Act. The legislation is a response to incidents of mismanagement and the subsequent mistreatment of veterans, including the case of a 64-year-old Army veteran from Kennewick, who was refused assistance from his car to the emergency room at a Seattle Veterans Administration hospital in February of 2015. 

“It is unacceptable that any veteran would be denied their request for emergency assistance from the VA,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I will continue to push for legislative reforms to right this wrong on behalf of all veterans who have worn the uniform to serve our country.”

Joining Rep. Newhouse as original cosponsors of H.R. 476 are Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Walter Jones (R-NC), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Pete Olson (R-TX), Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), and David Young (R-IA).

The legislation is identical to H.R. 3216, which Rep. Newhouse introduced in 2016 and which was approved in the House on a unanimous voice vote.

Highlights of H.R. 426

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) was enacted by Congress in 1986 and is designed to prevent hospitals from transferring, or “dumping,” uninsured patients at public hospitals. While a 2007 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) directive indicates that the VA complies with the intent of the EMTALA requirements, VA hospitals are considered to be “non-participating” hospitals and are therefore not obligated to fulfill EMTALA requirements. The VET Act would create similar EMTALA requirements for VA hospitals serving enrolled veterans.

H.R. 476 requires:

  1. A VA hospital to conduct a medical examination of an enrolled veteran to determine if an emergency medical condition exists;
  2. If such condition exists, the VA hospital must either stabilize the patient or comply with the statutory requirements of a proper transfer; and
  3. If an emergency medical condition exists and has not been stabilized, the hospital may not transfer the patient unless the patient, after being made aware of the risks, makes a transfer request in writing or a physician certifies that the medical benefits of a transfer outweigh the risks.