News Releases

VA says it currently lacks authority to cover emergency transportation services for newborns; Murray’s bill would make coverage certain

Senator Murray: “We must ensure no veteran ever faces a surprise bill like this, especially new moms dealing with an emergency situation”

(Washington, D.C.) –  U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced legislation to make clear the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the authority to cover the costs of medically-necessary emergency transportation services for newborn babies of certain women veterans. Senator Murray took action after multiple reports of new mothers being stuck with thousands of dollars in bills because of a narrow interpretation of current law by VA.  

“The idea that emergency transportation to get newborn infants into emergency care would not be covered by VA is a shocking and needless gap in care,” said Senator Murray. “We must ensure no veteran ever faces a surprise bill like this, especially new moms dealing with an emergency situation.”

In addition to ensuring that VA has the authority to cover medically-necessary emergency transportation, the legislation would:

  • Close a loophole on delivery location requirements that would potentially nullify an otherwise qualified newborn’s access to VA covered medical care
  • Expand the seven days of VA provided newborn medical care (through a waiver process) for a medically necessary extension
  • Remove unnecessary burdens on the veteran during the billing process
  • Waive any outstanding debts associated with medically-necessary emergency transportation services for a newborn incurred by the veteran

In 2008, Senator Murray introduced S. 2799, the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2008 which, when ultimately enacted into law as part of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, originally gave VA authority to provide care for newborn babies born to women veterans. 

Read the text of the VA Newborn Emergency Treatment Act here.

More background:

Women are one of the fastest-growing population of veterans, making up 10 percent of today’s veteran population, according to the most recent figures. Sen. Murray has been fighting to ensure VA is equipped to handle the needs of women veterans through legislation such as the bipartisan Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act of 2017 and the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2017.