A long-standing agreement between the Department of Veterans Affairs and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to process claims for migrant medical care is drawing scrutiny from veterans’ advocates, who are concerned that it could jeopardize the agency’s mission of caring for veterans in the midst of an ongoing border crisis and existing complaints about veterans’ care.
“I’d like to understand why the VA is involved,” Russ Duerstine, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America and a veteran of the United States Air Force, told Fox News Digital.
When an illegal immigrant detained by ICE requires medical attention, they are usually treated on-site by medical specialists. If they require expert or emergency treatment, they may be moved to an independent private provider.
In these circumstances, ICE enters into a contract with the VA’s Financial Service Center (VA-FSC) to execute payments to those providers. According to a July report, ICE has hundreds of letters of understanding in which the Health Service Corps (IHSC) of ICE will compensate clinicians at Medicare rates. The VA-FSC’s Healthcare Claims Processing System is used for this, which is a portal that allows clinicians to file and evaluate claims as well as access other services.