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VA pauses ambulance service reimbursement rule change

After industry objections, VA officials have pushed the change back one year


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By Bill Carey

WASHINGTON — The Veterans’ Administration has announced a pause on the proposed ambulance service reimbursement rule change after objections from EMS industry officials and members of Congress.

VA officials stated that they will not implement the changes until February 2025 at the earliest. The new rules were to go into effect by mid-February 2024, MilitaryTimes reported.

The VA website also posted the plan would be delayed by approximately one year.

VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said leaders are making the reimbursement changes “to better align with the rest of the health care industry.” A 2018 Inspector General report found the department had been paying 60% more than typical industry rates for air ambulance services.

MilitaryTimes reported VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the goal of new reimbursement rules is to push local providers into formal contracts with the VA for the services, ensuring stability and consistency in pricing.

If implemented, the new rules would change ambulance reimbursement for services provided to veterans by non-contracted ambulance services from the actual charge to a lesser amount or the Medicare Fee Schedule amount, according to Page, Wolfberg & Wirth, an EMS law firm.

The House and Senate are considering legislation on the proposed rule change.

RELATED: Wash. legislators rally against VA plan to cut air ambulance reimbursement rates