The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, includes language that requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to write off all copayments veterans must pay for medical care provided by the agency.
This legislation moves a temporary suspension on those copayments, first put into place by former president Donald Trump in April 2020, to a permanent reprieve that is scheduled to end in September 2021.
According to the law, all copayments for medical care provided to veterans through the VA from April 6, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, will be waived. The law will write off up to $1 billion in veterans' medical debt.
Some veterans usually must make copayments for VA-provided health care and prescriptions, depending on their Priority Group or the medical condition being treated. Normally, service-connected medical conditions are treated by the VA for free. For veterans with higher disability levels or those of limited means, all medical care may be free.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Trump signed an executive order delaying the collection of those copayments and offering relief to veterans and their families economically impacted by the pandemic.
When he came to office, Biden signed an executive order keeping many of Trump's economic relief programs in place and directing the VA to take actions to provide economic relief to veterans. As a result, the VA last month announced that it would suspend collection of medical and benefit copayments through the end of the fiscal year.
However, executive orders do not carry the full weight of law, and it took the proverbial "act of Congress" to forgive the medical debts fully. This law will forgive all medical debts for care provided to veterans through the VA and repay any veterans who made payments for medical care during the covered time frame.
If you have made any payments to the VA for covered medical care in the last 11 months, expect to see a refund soon.
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