Following Bennet Request, VA Expedites Payments to Choice Providers

Washington, D.C. - Following a request by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is eliminating administrative burdens placed on VA community providers in order to improve timeliness of provider payments. The modification eliminates a requirement for providers under the Choice program to submit a copy of the Veteran's medical record prior to receiving payment for medical services provided. The VA modified the Choice Program contract, making it easier for Health Net and TriWest to promptly pay providers.

"The Choice program was intended to improve Veterans' access to health care, yet too often unnecessary red tape is in the way," Bennet said. "We're glad to see the VA make this change to ensure health care providers are swiftly reimbursed and to reduce barriers to provider participation. We will continue to work closely with the VA to ensure the Choice program is being properly implemented and Colorado's Veterans are receiving the care they need, when they need it."

Bennet has long worked to help improve access to health care for Colorado Veterans. Most recently, he visited the VA clinic in Colorado Springs for a briefing on how the clinic was working to improve wait times after a report by the VA's Inspector General indicated long wait times, improper scheduling practices, and failure to direct veterans to the Choice program.

In 2013, Bennet encouraged the VA to consider working with non-VA health care facilities in certain rural areas of Colorado to provide veterans with more local options for care. He also successfully advocated for changes to the VA's implementation of the Choice Card program, including the VA's calculation for the 40-mile rule to account for the actual distance traveled, rather than the straight-line distance between the veteran and the VA medical center. Bennet has also pushed to allow veterans to access non-VA care through the Choice Card program if they live within 40 miles from a VA facility but the services they require are not offered at that VA facility. Bennet also urged the VA to consider the unique needs of rural veterans when developing its consolidated plan for delivery of non-VA care to veterans.