Deceased veteran’s false $3,000 medical bill only corrected when VA contacted by local news

The VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System in Reno, NV (Credit: Yelp)

US Navy vet Chuck Baltzell served in Vietnam and years later was battling stage 4 prostate cancer.  His family believes he contracted the illness because of his exposure to Agent Orange.

Chuck died last summer, two months after coming down with pneumonia. While mourning the loss of their loved one- Chuck’s family says they received a $3,000 bill for the 42-mile ambulance ride he took from Dayton to Reno last July.

They checked to make sure the ride would be covered under his VA benefits and were told at the time ‘not to worry’ that it should be taken care of.  It wasn’t.

His daughter and wife couldn’t get any answers from the VA either.

“We went there in person, we sat there and tried to discuss with them about the bill, and they said, ‘Well it should be covered. It might be covered,'” said Crystal Pereira, Baltzell’s daughter.

Despite their efforts, the bill was never covered — until the local news station got involved.

When News 4 contacted the Reno VA, the family was informed hours later that the bill would be taken care of.

The VA representative in Reno said a lapse in protocol is to blame. He says a second ‘utilization review’ never took place because of a “break in the system.” Had that second  review taken place, a doctor would have looked at the claim and deemed it medically necessary.

VA rep Darin Farr says that review never took place because the first thing that happened was  Chuck’s claim was denied because he “didn’t meet the criteria”.  That was a mistake, Farr said.

The bill should have been paid because as Crystal pointed out  it’s “very common after you go through radiation to have some kind of issue with breathing because you get knocked down so much that it’s easy to get a cold.'”

The family is still disappointed that the VA never said anything to them directly – or acknowledged the error. They are satisfied however that the bill is now paid and it didn’t have to come out of their own pocket

© 2016 Bright Mountain Media, Inc.

All rights reserved. The content of this webpage may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of Bright Mountain Media, Inc. which may be contacted at


  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

, ,

Post navigation