Hoeven: VA Agrees to Implement Pilot Project in Fargo to Address Veteran Scheduling, Private Care Issues

Senator Brought VA, Health Net Officials to Fargo to Press for Pilot Project, Agreement Was Reached Immediately Following Roundtable

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has agreed to develop and start to implement a pilot project over the next 30 days at the Fargo VA Medical Center to address scheduling and service with the Veterans Choice Program. The senator’s announcement follows a roundtable he hosted on Friday with officials he invited to North Dakota from the VA and Health Net. The pilot program will serve as an administrative remedy to the bureaucratic delays and confusion that veterans have experienced in North Dakota when trying to schedule appointments.

“It is imperative that we provide timely access to the health care our veterans have earned and deserve,” Hoeven said. “We have reached an agreement between the VA, the Fargo VA Medical Center and Health Net to implement a pilot project over the next thirty days that aims to address the serious scheduling issues our veterans and their health care providers have faced.”

Hoeven is also working on a national level with his colleagues to address the scheduling and service issues. He and his Senate colleagues introduced the Veterans Choice Improvement Act, which would make needed reforms to the Veterans Choice Program to simplify and streamline the process for veterans who need to go outside of the VA to receive care from private providers. It would also improve the provider reimbursement challenges on a national level. A summary of the legislation is available here.

Specifically, the bill achieves two important objectives:

  • Consolidates redundant and overlapping programs into a single program, the Veterans Choice Program, and
  • Streamlines the process by creating one funding source for all non-VA care programs 

Hoeven worked to include another provision in the Veterans Choice Improvement Act that would facilitate greater health care services for veterans in both rural and urban communities by allowing the VA to enter into provider agreements with qualified hospital, medical, and extended care providers. The provision is similar to his Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act, which was approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in December. The legislation would enable skilled nursing homes and in-home care providers to accept veteran patients without having to comply with burdensome and oftentimes expensive federal contracting requirements.