A long-standing arrangement 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 affect the agency’s mission of caring for veterans — amid an ongoing border crisis and existing complaints about the care delivered to veterans.
“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 under ICE detention requires healthcare, they are typically treated on-site by medical professionals. However, if specialist or emergency care is required, they may be transported to an independent private provider.
In such cases, ICE contracts with the VA’s Financial Service Center (VA-FSC) to process reimbursements to those providers. According to a report from July, ICE has hundreds of letters of understanding in which ICE’s Health Service Corps (IHSC) will reimburse providers at Medicare rates. That uses the VA-FSC’s Healthcare Claims Processing System — a portal that allows providers to submit and view claims and access other resources.