Simply Sending Vets on Waiting Lists to Private Hospitals Won’t Solve VA Crisis

Hospitals around the country face a tough dilemma: Does their duty to serve U.S. military veterans who are unable to get timely care at Veterans Affairs Department healthcare facilities outweigh the headache of dealing with the VA’s relatively low and slow payments? For some, the answer is no.

Under the VA’s new Accelerating Care Initiative, VA facilities must offer a referral to a non-VA provider for any new patients who are on a wait list or have an appointment more than 30 days out. The first referrals were expected to start May 30.

Under that initiative, the Veterans Affairs Department is expected to reimburse providers at the equivalent of Medicare rates. That has been the VA’s reimbursement policy for years, private hospital officials say. They complain that those rates cover only about 88% of their costs in treating veterans.

“Imposing Medicare rates, especially for complex cases, will likely not create open doors for veterans at many hospitals,” said Colette Lasack, vice president of revenue cycle at Kansas City-based University of Kansas Hospital.

In 2011, the VA launched the Access Received Closer to Home initiative, which allowed veterans living in rural areas to go to private healthcare providers when there was no VA facility located nearby. But administrative hassles prompted some private hospitals to quit the program.

Pratt Regional Medical Center in Kansas joined but soon dropped out. The program “quickly fell out of favor with physicians due to too much bureaucracy from the VA,” said Cindy Samuelson, vice president of member services and public relations at Kansas Hospital Association. “It just became too much of a burden.”

The VA also has developed a reputation among some hospitals as a problematic payer.

(Virgil Dickson, Modern Healthcare)

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Thomas says:

    “That has been the VA’s reimbursement policy for years, private hospital officials say. They complain that those rates cover only about 88% of their costs in treating veterans.”

    I have a feeling that the VA is not much better at reimbursing then providing care.

  2. James M. says:

    “But administrative hassles prompted some private hospitals to quit the program.”

    Why not ditch the VA altogether since they are useless in providing veterans with care. There needs to be a solution to give health care to veterans that is reliable and minimize the perverse incentives government run healthcare.

    • John R. Graham says:

      Thank you. That is a very good point. There is not a hospital system for retired career public servants. Nor one for retired IBM employees, nor retired Microsoft employees, etc.

  3. Phill S says:

    So, the government’s solution to the problem they caused ends up creating another problem? Way to go, supporters of a bigger government.

    I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear this. The government is whole inefficient, and nobody in their right minds wants to deal with the bureaucratic nightmare that is the VA or another of the other agencies, save the military.

  4. Mitch says:

    It is very unfortunate to see that the inefficiencies cause veterans not to receive care

  5. Becky says:

    My husband is a Veteran. He has a lot of health issues but was refused and said to be non-service related. This is not right when thousands of Veterans have the same illnesses due to using the same air guns not changing the needles. I have seen veterans receiving high monthly payments for heart conditions and other conditions how are these related to service. As for the medical treatment Veterans get the medications they get are the cheapest or oldest they can find. My husband has to take Celebrex but the VA will not give it to him because it is to expensive even though it is the only thing that will work for him. Why does Canada have a generic for Celebrex but we have been waiting 20 years for it. It costs like 300.00 a month for 30 pills when he needs 2 a day. Why can’t the VA offer medications for the Veterans that they need. When it comes to his pain medication what do they do they cut it when he is in pain Just because idiots out there are getting it illegally so we suffer again. We are on a fixed income social security so why doesn’t the VA offer free medications depending on their income. He might as well be on Medicaid. We have waited as long as we can for applying for disability since he was turned down by the VA when he is unable to work due to his illnesses. Why can’t we get good medical coverage. I have to wait until November to apply since our circumstances prevented us from getting insurance by the cut off time, because my husband tried to work but couldn’t and ever time you change something reporting things that have changed you get penalized. Texas Medicaid refuses me to get Medicaid either because we have a car 2004 that is valued at to much or because we have a few dollars to much just because we received income tax. Why does an illegal not have to follow the rules but they can get good insurance for .10 on the dollar anytime they want it but I have to wait until November. How do they expect anyone to live on 1172.00 a month and offer you 41.00 a month for food stamps. I was always middle classed but due to loosing a business because of my husbands illness why are we not allowed any benefits when we have paid taxes all our lives. My husband is almost 65 but had to retire at 64 he tried to make it but can no longer work so why are we denied everything. I am unable to work because of a back injury that happened years ago but was cheated out of my medical compensation because I wanted to work went back to work but had changed Doctors because the first one didn’t do an MRI and had made an appointment for another Dr. but since I went back to work they said I got hurt after I went back to work in between Drs. They wouldn’t let me explain myself but my new Dr. didn’t know the situation. Our system cheats us all. Just because I wanted to work. I give up I never wanted any government help so look what we are reduced to.