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Newhouse Veterans Emergency Treatment Bill Approved by House

September 26, 2016
Press Release
Newhouse legislation addressing denial of assistance for Kennewick veteran at Seattle VA moves forward

WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL), released the following statements after legislation Rep. Newhouse introduced, H.R. 3216, the Veterans Emergency Treatment (VET) Act, passed the House today on a voice vote. Rep. Newhouse introduced H.R. 3216 in response to recent 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. 

“For a veteran who has served our nation to request emergency assistance from the VA, and instead of receiving aid to be hung up on, is unconscionable. Such mistreatment demands legislative reform, and I thank Chairman Miller and my colleagues for supporting this measure to improve emergency care for our veterans.” – Rep. Dan Newhouse

“Sometimes it seems VA is almost incapable of operating with common sense, and the department’s maddening mistreatment of veteran Donald Siefken proves it. That’s why I am grateful to Rep. Dan Newhouse for his leadership in offering this important legislation that would clarify and strengthen the VA’s obligation to provide appropriate emergency care for veterans.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Highlights of H.R. 3216

The Emergency 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 (VA) 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 veterans visiting VA hospitals.

H.R. 3216 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
  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.

H.R. 3216 passed the House today as a standalone bill and has been referred to the Senate. Rep. Newhouse’s amendment adopted and included in H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, has identical language and was passed by the House on September 14.