Harder, Flora Save Manteca Veteran Nearly $575,000 on Medical Bills after Repeated VA Errors

January 28, 2020
Press Release
John Bokelman of Manteca Was Denied Payment for Care after Heart Attacks

Modesto, CA – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) announced that his office – working with the office of Assemblyman Heath Flora – helped local veteran John Bokelman of Manteca get the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cover his medical bills totaling $573,108.54 after incorrectly denying his claims. Mr. Bokelman had two heart attacks in 2017, but the VA refused to cover the costs associated with treatment on four separate occasions. Most alarmingly, the VA’s initial denial claimed that heart attacks were not emergencies. Without intervention, Mr. Bokelman would have been forced to pay for all of the essential procedures and emergency room visits out-of-pocket – even though his VA benefits are designed to cover such emergency visits.

“John Bokelman fought for our country, fought for his life in the emergency room, and then had to fight his own government for the coverage he earned – that’s just wrong. Our veterans have earned better than that,” said Rep. Harder. “Any vet who needs a hand getting access to their earned benefits should give us a call – we’ll go to bat for you.”

“Our offices were able to work together on Mr. Bokelman’s behalf and help him navigate difficult government bureaucracy,” said Assemblyman Flora. “We’re all glad to see that Mr. Bokelman’s case has been resolved and our office will continue to help every constituent that we can.”

“Thanks to Congressman Harder, Assemblyman Flora and their staff for their dogged determination in helping me correct the improprieties I faced at the VA,” said John Bokelman. “It’s been tough and they’ve helped quite a bit.”

The VA is required to cover qualifying emergency room visits – including for heart attacks. However, the VA repeatedly refused to cover the costs of his emergency room visits. After claiming that the visits were not emergencies, the VA continued to refuse to pay for the veteran’s care by incorrectly alleging that both Mr. Bokelman and third party physicians contracted with Doctors Hospital of Manteca failed to submit paperwork in a timely fashion. Rep. Harder’s dedicated veterans caseworker worked with Mr. Bokelman to prove that all of the paperwork had been submitted correctly and on-time.

Since taking office, Rep. Harder has helped nearly 400 veterans cut through red tape at federal agencies including the VA, Department of Defense (DoD) and the Departments of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.