Pappas Holds Hearing on VA Provider Payment Issues Hindering Veteran Care
Today Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01), who serves as the Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, held a hearing on the challenges facing community care providers as a result of MISSION Act implementation.
The MISSION Act expanded veterans’ access to local providers through the creation of Community Care Networks, and the ongoing implementation of this program is meant to provide additional care options for veterans that are closer to home. In recent months, however, community providers have contacted Congressional offices around the country, including Congressman Pappas’s office, about serious concerns that include significant delays in obtaining payments from VA’s contractors, administrative burdens associated with resolving outstanding claims, difficulties in being added to the contractors’ networks and VA’s provider directories, and sudden and dramatic cuts to payment rates for certain types of care.
The New Hampshire Hospital Association alone estimates that 23 hospitals are awaiting payment for nearly $137 million in claims for VA community care, despite a majority of the services being provided in 2019.
“Veterans who have fought for this country should not have to face yet another battle to get the care they have earned when their service ends,” said Congressman Pappas in his opening statement. “Any providers who stand ready, willing, and eager to care for our veterans should not face a complicated and inefficient bureaucracy that forces them to lose time, money, and eventually the ability to care for veterans at all. Community care opens the doors for critical services for our veterans, and I will continue to work with providers, VA, and third party payers to fix this unacceptable situation.”
To ensure that Granite Staters’ concerns are heard clearly by the VA, Congressman Pappas invited the Co-Founders of Manchester-based, veteran-owned Veteran & First Responder Healthcare, Erik L. Golnick and Eric Frieman, to testify at the committee hearing.
Congressman Pappas led questioning of VA leadership after hearing testimony from Mr. Golnick and Mr. Frieman, as well as other witnesses, on what can be done to address the palpable frustration he is hearing from providers in his district over the challenges that community care providers are dealing with to care for veterans.
“As a veteran-run company, we are mission-focused on ensuring that veterans and their families get the highest quality care they need in a timely and efficient manner,” said Mr. Golnick in his testimony.
Mr. Golnick outlined a number of challenges that he and his team have experienced first-hand, including instances where both the VA and third party administrator (TPA) each stated that the other was responsible for resolving an administrative issue. Additionally, Mr. Golnick highlighted challenges he had experienced with referrals being slowed or even stuck as well as difficulties with claim submissions and payments.
“It is our hope that by illuminating these issues and providing some insight as a community provider, we can assist in making the community care network more efficient and the transition to other regions easier,” added Golnick.
Prior to this hearing, Congressman Pappas led a bipartisan letter to the VA regarding this issue after hearing from local veterans and providers.
Congressman Pappas also met with a VA community care provider and patients in Laconia, Gate of Life Acupuncture and Wellness, to discuss payment issues they have experienced as VA community care providers alongside veterans who received their care.