Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Make Long-Term, Private Care More Available to Veterans in Their Home Communities

Senator Discusses Veterans Care Coordination Initiative and Continued Work to Improve Vet Access to Health Services at Napoleon Care Center

NAPOLEON, N.D. – During a visit to the Napoleon Care Center today, Senator John Hoeven outlined his efforts to make more health care services available for veterans in both rural and urban communities.

“Health care is a cornerstone of the promises we make to our veterans, and they should be able to access the care they need without long road trips or complicated bureaucracy,” Hoeven said. “Our long-term care measure in the Veterans First Act as well as our new Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo VA are part of our ongoing work to remove obstacles and allow veterans to access more convenient, quality care closer to home.”

Improving Veterans’ Access to Long-Term Care

Hoeven’s Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act, which was approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in December, would allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter into provider agreements with qualified hospital, medical and extended care providers. This would enable providers, such as skilled nursing homes and in-home care services, to accept veteran patients without having to comply with burdensome and oftentimes expensive federal contracting requirements.

Hoeven secured a similar provision in the Veterans First Act, which he continues working to pass. This bipartisan legislation will strengthen the Veterans Choice Program, increase accountability at the VA and improve veterans’ health care services and benefits.

Convenient Health Care for Veterans in their Communities

Hoeven worked to secure and implement a new pilot program, the Veterans Care Coordination initiative, which allows veterans seeking care through the Veterans 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. This will help veterans in North Dakota and western Minnesota access care from a private health care provider in the community if they have experienced unacceptable waiting times or a VA medical center is inaccessible.

In addition, the new pilot program arranges to have a Health Net staff member at the Fargo VA so providers can work with the Fargo VA to improve provider reimbursements and reduce denials of veterans’ claims. At the same time, Health Net’s new electronic billing system should also reduce errors and payment denials.

The Veterans Care Coordination initiative grew out of a series of veterans’ listening sessions and roundtables Hoeven held around the state. Beginning nearly a year ago in Williston, he heard about a range of problems veterans were experiencing when working with Health Net to schedule and access health care. Problems included dropped appointments, long wait times, denied payments to eligible local providers and other obstacles to getting care.

The senator met with veterans in large cities like Fargo, Bismarck and Dickinson, as well as small communities like Bottineau and Steele, all encountering similar problems. The senator then secured a commitment from VA Secretary Bob McDonald to launch the pilot program to address the issue.

Hoeven worked closely with Lavonne Liversage, Fargo VA Health Care System Director; Cheryl Andersen, Clinical Care Resource Manager; Dr. Breton Weintraub, Chief of Staff at the VA Medical Center; and Gene Migliaccio, Dr.P.H., Deputy Chief Business Officer for Purchased Care for the VA. Hoeven also worked to gather input from state and local officials, including Lonnie Wangen, Commissioner N.D. Veteran’s Affairs; Grant Carns, Williams County Veterans Service Officer; and Dan Thorstad, Cass County VSO, who attended Hoeven’s announcement of the new pilot program in Fargo.