Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Help Veterans at Disabled American Veterans Annual Convention in Mandan

Senator Cosponsored Legislation to Improve & Extend Choice Program, Continues Working to Expand Veterans’ Access to Health Care

MANDAN, N.D. – At the Disabled American Veterans annual convention today, Senator John Hoeven outlined his work to provide veterans with timely, quality health care options closer to home. Last week, the President signed legislation Hoeven cosponsored to extend the Veterans Choice Program, which was set to expire in August. Hoeven also continues his efforts to build on the success of the Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo VA, which he secured and worked to implement with federal and local officials, including veteran service officers and VA administrators.

“We are working hard to expand veterans’ access to health care options closer to home and to improve their quality of service,” Hoeven said. “That includes ensuring our veterans in North Dakota have timely appointments. We continue advancing efforts to improve this particular area through our Veterans Care Coordination Initiative at the Fargo VA. We also recently passed legislation to extend the Veterans Choice Program, which helps our veterans access more health care options. We will continue working to ensure that our veterans receive the care they deserve.” 

Veterans Choice Program Extension

The extension legislation Hoeven cosponsored and the President signed into law allows the Choice Program to continue until its original funding is fully expended. This ensures that veterans can benefit from the $950 million in appropriated funding for the program that would have otherwise gone unused.

In addition, the legislation allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to serve as the primary payer under the Choice Program, which will alleviate difficulties providers have faced in receiving payment for services. The bill also improves the sharing of medical records between the VA and community providers, which will reduce wait times for appointments and strengthen care coordination.

Veterans Care Coordination Initiative

The Veterans Care Coordination initiative grew out of a series of meetings and listening roundtables Hoeven held with veterans around the state in both large and small communities. It allows veterans seeking care through the Choice Program to coordinate all of their health care needs through the Fargo VA Medical Center rather than Health Net, a third party contractor headquartered in California. The initiative also arranges for a Health Net staff member to be at the Fargo VA so providers can work with the Fargo VA to reduce denials of veterans’ claims and improve provider reimbursements. 

The initiative has reduced the average wait time between initial call and scheduling a community appointment from nearly 24 days a year ago to five or six days currently. The program has received wide positive feedback from veterans and the community, and the Fargo VA is working to hire and train additional personnel to handle the increased use of the program. 

VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin recently accepted Hoeven’s invitation to visit North Dakota and see firsthand local efforts to improve care for veterans, including the initiative. The senator is promoting the initiative as a model to help address delays in scheduling appointments through the Veterans Choice Program across the nation.