Hoeven Urges VA Secretary to Expand Extended-Care for Veterans, Allow Provider Agreements

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent recently, Senator John Hoeven urged Dr. David Shulkin, the newly-confirmed Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), to expand veteran access to extended care services through the regulatory process. The senator’s goal is to allow the VA to enter into provider agreements with non-VA long-term care providers, rather than the current burdensome federal contracting requirements, similar to his legislation, the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act. The full text of Hoeven’s letter can be found here.

“Our veterans, whether rural or urban, deserve to have access to extended care in or near their home communities,” said Hoeven. “The current contracting requirements severely limit the availability of these important services for veterans, with only 14 of the 80 nursing homes in North Dakota accepting veterans. By enabling provider agreements for these facilities, we can greatly improve the availability of long-term care for veterans, helping them to stay closer to home and their loved ones.” 

“Senator Hoeven is a national and state advocate for veterans,” said Shelly Peterson, President of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association. “On behalf of veterans and their access to care at the local level, he is not giving up until it is assured. We appreciate his unending passion and drive for all veterans. We know under Senator Hoeven's leadership, expanding care to veterans in their local communities will happen.”

During his confirmation process, Shulkin accepted Hoeven’s invitation to visit North Dakota to see firsthand local efforts to improve care for veterans, including the Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo VA. Following a series of meetings and listening roundtables Hoeven held with veterans around the state in both large and small communities, the senator worked with federal and local officials, including veteran service officers and VA administrators, to secure and implement the initiative. It 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.

As a result of the initiative, the average time from initial call to a scheduled community appointment decreased from nearly 24 days in April to four and a half days in December, according to an update provided to Hoeven by the Fargo VA. 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.