President Biden is facing increased scrutiny over his administration providing health care administrative services to illegal migrants amid a worsening border crisis, potentially exacerbating long wait times for American veterans utilizing Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) facilities.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., touted his recently introduced No VA Resources for Illegal Aliens Act, which he introduced alongside Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., that would ban such action, one of the many problems he says are facing the country as a result of the border “disaster” taking place under Biden’s watch.
“[Biden’s] decided, OK, we’ve got to feed all these 10 million people we’ve let come across the border, we’ve got to house them, and we’ve got to give them health care,” Tuberville said. “They’ve opened up care from the doctors in these [VA] community care systems. The lines now in the VA’s are getting longer. Our funds that are supposed to go to the veterans are going to these illegal immigrants that are coming across.”
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Sen. Tommy Tuberville (Anna Moneymaker)
Tuberville lamented that the VA was already not able to provide care for all 19 million veterans living across the country and that the community systems he mentioned had helped reduce wait times until the border crisis began to get worse.
The arrangement between the VA’s Financial Service Center (VA-FSC) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to process claims for migrant medical care is a longstanding one that actually predates the Biden administration and was outlined in a 2020 memo during former President Trump’s administration.
When an illegal migrant under ICE detention requires health care, they are typically treated onsite by medical professionals. However, if specialist or emergency care is required, they may be taken to an independent private provider.
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President Biden (Getty Images)
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, which a portal that allows providers to submit and view claims and access other resources.
The VA told Fox News Digital in December that it has had an interagency agreement with the IHSC since 2002 to provide processing, but it also noted that the department neither provides health care nor pays for it. Under the agreement with IHSC, ICE pays fees for the claims processing services rendered and covers disbursements made to pay for claims.
However, the crisis at the border, with record numbers of migrants crossing into the U.S. and needing medical care, has likely worsened what one former veterans’ affairs adviser told Fox News Digital in December was a “history of a backlog of medical claims which has resulted in veterans getting bills they shouldn’t be getting, and … having dissatisfied community care providers who are not getting paid in a timely manner.”
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Department of Veterans’ Affairs Vet Center in Anoka, Minnesota (Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Tuberville expressed hope that the bill could get some bipartisan support, considering the election year and that a number of Democrats up for reelection are running close races.
“I think we’ve got a great opportunity to get this, maybe not to a vote, but at least where we discuss it on the floor, where the American people start to understand it,” he said. “An election year is a great year to try to get some kind of bipartisan help on any type of bill, especially when it comes to the veterans. That means so much to us here in our country.”
Tuberville went on to blast the Biden administration’s selling of border wall materials purchased under the previous administration rather than using them as a barrier to deter border crossings, and he blasted Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who narrowly survived an impeachment vote last week, as a “globalist” who has no interest in walls or borders.
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“If we don’t get a guy like President Trump in office, heaven help us. I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he added.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House for comment.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Jamie Joseph contributed to this report.