VA officials have announced they are pausing a rule change on ambulance service reimbursements. The decision comes after push back from EMS industry officials and members of Congress.
The new rules were originally slated to take effect in February 2024, however the department has now said they will not implement them until February 2025 at the earliest.
The VA initially decided to make the rule change after a 2018 VA inspector general report discovered the department paid 60% more than medicare rates for air ambulance services. The department said it would change its structure for reimbursing ambulance companies to "be good stewards of taxpayer money."
VA officials have said they are committed to changing the rates, but that they will also make sure veterans will not receive bills for the services.
When the VA announced the proposed rule change, concerns were raised that it could ultimately negatively affect veterans who live in rural areas that are far from any emergency room.
Cuts in reimbursement rates could potentially even force the closure of some emergency response services in rural areas.
Ben Clayton, CEO of Life Flight Network, called the VA's decision to postpone the rule change "a significant victory" for veterans.
The hope is that by taking the time to reevaluate the rule change, the VA will be able to ensure that veterans are not negatively impacted by the move.