County claims VA hospital owes $1.5 million in unpaid ambulance costs

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center serves 30,000 veterans living in 59 counties of the state.

The VA utilizes Sedgwick County’s EMS services when it needs to transport veterans from the VA to a nearby hospital.

However, that comes at a cost.

It’s something that Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis says has been adding up for the past four years.

“Once we have a transport from the Veterans Administration, than we will send a bill to the VA, the VA obviously isn’t paying timely,” said Dennis.

Dennis says the county is owed money from the VA for those services dating back to 2014.

He says right now, the county is owed $97,000 from 2014, $365,000 from 2015 and $325,000 from 2016.

This year alone, Dennis says the county is owed $679,000.  That amounts to a total of over $1.5 million.

“This is a considerable amount of money owed to Sedgwick County residents, first of all, if we had an extra $1.5 million in our EMS budget, we could remodel the EMS facility that is located in Commissioner Ranzau’s district, we’d have enough left over to build on in Commissioner Unruh’s district,” said Dennis.

Dennis says getting the money he says the county is owed back won’t be easy.

“Any time it gets over a year, if they had other ways of paying for it, we can’t go against their insurance or Medicare or Medicaid, we have to go after the veteran,” said Dennis.

The veterans are the biggest concern for Dennis, who is a retired Air Force Colonel himself.

He says his goal is to find out where the problem lies and work toward a solution.

“It’s not that I’m not happy with the VA by any means, it’s just I’m concerned that there is a problem some place,” said Dennis.

The VA did release a statement Wednesday afternoon saying:

“The VA is committed to paying its bills. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the bills in question and to clarify differences in understanding of what is actually due. The VA is a good corporate citizen and will honor its obligations.”

County leaders are slated to meet with VA officials Thursday afternoon.

KSN will cover that meeting for you and have what comes out of it on KSN News at 5 and 6 p.m.


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