02.05.16

Gardner Demands Answers from VA Secretary McDonald on Choice Program

WASHINGTON – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today sent a letter to Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald regarding non-VA medical providers not being reimbursed for the care they provide to our veterans. The bipartisan Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 stipulates veterans may seek care at non-VA facilities and those facilities are to be reimbursed by the VA. Multiple reports out of Colorado indicate many non-VA providers are not being reimbursed in a timely manner, and many of these providers now refuse to see veterans because of mismanagement at the VA.

The letter reads in full:

I write today to express my deep concern about a number of complaints I have received from non-VA medical providers that are not being reimbursed for their services to veterans in Colorado, and ask that you take immediate action in response to these complaints.  

As the result of the shameful treatment of veterans seeking care at the VA, Congress passed and the President signed the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. The intention of this bi-partisan effort was to provide additional care options and more timely care of veterans who are shut out of the system. The reports from veterans and medical providers of the Choice program that I have received are deeply concerning and contradictory to this effort.

Numerous licensed and registered non-VA providers— many of which are veteran owned— are hesitating to accept VA patients due to the mismanagement of their claims. Non-VA providers have reported that they are not being reimbursed in a timely manner, and in many cases not being reimbursed at all. Several of these reports indicate that claims have been outstanding for 90 days or more, and include accounts of lost paperwork and the mismanagement of patient documentation. As a result of this poor management, several providers have decided to refuse veterans altogether.  

The implementation of the Veterans’ Choice program in both rural and urban Colorado has been unacceptable. Any disruption or lack of care to veterans in need is a complete violation of the contract that these men and women made with their country when they served. I urge you to take immediate action to hold the culprits of this travesty accountable, and restore the integrity of the Veterans’ Choice program. 

Due to the severity of this matter, I ask that you respond to this inquiry with a detailed explanation and summary as to how this matter has been taken care of by March 5, 2016. 

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.

 

354 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

(202) 224-5941