Veteran healthcare refunds: How the Staab Rule is supposed to help

Korean War veteran Richard Staab never thought that his fiercest battle would be fought in America, but a nearly decade after surviving emergency open heart surgery, he’s still fighting the Veterans Administration to reimburse him.

Because the Minnesota man’s surgery was in a non-VA hospital and Staab had other insurance, the VA said it would not reimburse his remaining $48,000 in medical bills.

Last year the Staab Rule was created to clarify when the VA will act as a “second payer” to non-VA emergency treatment.

Here are three things you should know about the Staab Rule:

1) What is the Staab Rule?

The Staab Rule established the standards that the Veterans Administration must follow when reimbursing veterans for emergency medical care when they have other insurance and receive ER treatment at a non-VA hospital.

2) How many cases could receive refunds under the rule?

When the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decided Staab, congressional aides said there were more than 1 million related cases. However, the VA ultimately said 217,000 other veterans’ cases would be considered for refunds.

3) How many claims have been refunded?

It’s not known how many claims, in any, have been refunded. News Center 7’s I-Team submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests, but neither have been answered.

A congressional aide familiar with the meeting between congressional staff and the VA said that during a meeting the VA only referenced one $12 refund made under the Staab Rule.

While the Staab Rule attempted to clarify when reimbursements should be issued, a loophole in the ruling is allowing the VA to continue denying refunds to veterans. The I-Team is investigating that loophole and a class action lawsuit that has been raised against the VA. For more information, tune in Monday, May 6, at 5:30 p.m.