Military medical centers send huge bills
Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are calling on the Pentagon to address the lack of financial relief provided to citizens undergoing emergency treatment at US military installations. Such a move follows a recent report from the US Government Accountability Office. The report found that the Department of Defense, despite its capabilities, rarely waives or reduces medical fees issued to citizens in these circumstances.
"Being able to treat these patients will benefit the military," Castro said. "So what the military should do is work with private insurers, but it also needs to work with patients to reduce these claims and eliminate the exorbitant or unusual costs being charged to patients.
In 2020, Castro enacted a law allowing military personnel to waive or reduce medical costs for civilians who received "emergency care" and were unable to pay for it, which became the law. became. However, nonpartisan governments report that the military does not exercise this authority often.
According to the Government Accountability Office, out of 27,000 private medical debt cases investigated over a five-year period, he was his only 32 cases.
"The Department of Defense has options to provide financial relief, but does not consistently inform patients about them," the report said.
Some citizens are well aware of the impact of large medical bills issued by military hospitals after receiving emergency medical care.
Last year, CBS Morning's national consumer research correspondent Anna Werner said Alexis Hernandez -- that Puerto Rico was studying I spoke with a woman who lived there. When a gas explosion in his apartment inflicted him with life-threatening injuries,
after receiving specialized treatment at the Burn Center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Hernandez was billed for his $1.7 million by the government. He was subsequently exonerated of his medical debt but at one point said he felt "completely hopeless" at the weight of his debt. I was. Hernandez finally went back to medical school and underwent a total of 29 surgeries. and is working with the Department of Defense to ensure that debt collection inquiries are accurate.
"The Department of Finance will work with citizens who owe debts to ensure that they are treated fairly, are given proper notice, have the opportunity to challenge their debts, and have access to a repayment plan. We are working to ensure that it is consistent with government policy, a fiscal instrument," a Treasury Department spokeswoman said.
Tori B. Powell is a breaking news reporter for CBS News. email@example.com
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