Karine Carpenter learned on Wednesday that her father's dying wish will come true.
The former jet fighter pilot's emergency medical bills will be repaid by the Department of Veterans Affairs, relieving Carpenter and her mother of the $10,000 burden.
David Shulkin, secretary of the VA, on Wednesday announced that the department dropped an appeal of a federal court decision and planned to reimburse more than 370,000 veterans like Carpenter's father Alfred Dymock.
The department had long held that it wasn't responsible for repaying emergency bills of veterans who sought medical care outside VA hospitals if they had another form of insurance, like Medicare.
For Carpenter, the news meant that she wouldn't have to live with the guilt of telling Dymock on his death bed that the bills had been repaid. In December, just before his passing, Carpenter told her father that the VA had taken care of the bills and he could rest at peace.
"I call it amazing. This is an answered prayer for our family," Carpenter said. "He was able to pass away because he felt at peace."
Sens. Mike Rounds,R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-M.N., late last year urged the VA to reimburse hundreds of thousands of veterans who'd requested reimbursements from the department.
The VA in 2010 became legally responsible for taking care of the tabs for veterans that seek emergency medical care outside the VA. But until recently, the department fought to put those costs on other insurers and, in some cases, on veterans.
"This is really a victory for some of the oldest veterans that we've got," Rounds told Argus Leader Media. "This is going to take a huge weight off of some of these older veterans."
Shulkin on Wednesday told a congressional committee that the VA will make the rules needed to repay veterans' claims and start processing those in coming months.