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  • Major Overhaul of VA Choice Could be On the Way—But Health Net Won't Be Around For It

    Some big changes may be in store for Veterans Affairs (VA) patients and providers, as Congress moves toward approval of an expansion of care options for VA patients and the VA announces that it's ending a relationship with Health Net Federal, a major contractor for the VA Choice program.

    The most far-reaching decision is the advancement of a bill named the VA Mission Act. That bill, already approved in the US House of Representatives and likely to pass in the US Senate, would commit $52 billion to the creation of a new program that would overhaul VA Choice, the program created in 2014 to increase access and reduce wait times for VA patients by allowing greater use of non-VA providers.

    The VA Choice program faced criticism that it has fallen short of its aims, and is set to run out of money in late May or early June 2018. If signed into law, the Mission Act would provide funding while the program is retooled. The Trump administration has already indicated support for the legislation.

    Once up and running, the new program would allow veterans to access private sector care in instances in which long travel times, long wait times, or a VA facility's poor service prevent the patient from receiving adequate care. The program would also allow up to 2 walk-in visits per year at non-VA clinics, according to a report in the Military Times.

    In another move related to VA Choice, VA announced that it will be allowing its contract with Health Net Federal to expire on September 30, 2018. The company is the contractor for VA Choice services in regions that include all or portions of 37 states

    VA has not announced a new contractor for the regions now served by Health Net, nor has it provided any guidance on what providers currently contracted with Health Net should be doing to prepare for the change. For its part, Health Net issued a statement that it will "remain focused on program performance improvements" and "will continue to work collaboratively with VA to ensure providers receive prompt and timely payments during this period of transition." The company stated that it will provide updates on the transition on its Veterans Affairs webpage.

    ATPA regulatory affairs staff will continue to monitor the progress of the legislation and transition from Health Net, and will share updates through PT in Motion News and other resources.

    Comments

    • I see this as a huge loss for veterans. Most veterans prefer VA care. It would be better to allocate 52 billion into improving the VA care. This money is going to private companies who are not veteran cebntered, but rather driven by profits.

      Posted by Richard Barba on 5/23/2018 3:58 PM

    • All of our Service men/women should be able to receive comprehensive, detailed, and meaningful evaluations of ALL their related dysfunctions from physical therapist that are skilled in multiple techniques. They deserve more than canned exercise prescription. I am proud to help our service men and women. Many times, it is the first time that anyone really listened to them. I also respect those that have given their best to our service men and women in over-scheduled and under equipped VA clinics. God Bless America!

      Posted by Andrew on 5/23/2018 5:02 PM

    • It's a back door attempt at privatization and shame on the APTA for supporting it! You clearly are all about profit margin and not access to affordable, quality care. To improve access the VA need only build more clinics but out corporately owned congress are fighting that tooth and nail.

      Posted by Tammy Lettieri on 5/23/2018 7:14 PM

    • Editor’s note: APTA was not involved in advocacy for the VA Mission Act of 2018, but we do believe it’s important to keep members informed of this legislation.

      Posted by PT in Motion News on 5/24/2018 9:29 AM

    • APTA should not support this move. There is a unique culture involved with supporting veterans, and within the VA we have far more latitude designing treatment plans that meet the needs of each veteran. I find VA employees are more mission motivated than profit motivated. This money should go towards streamlining the bureaucracy and adequately updating resources, such as our medical records system and transportation to facilities.

      Posted by John Werle PT, DPT on 5/28/2018 1:48 PM

    • There are a great deal of veterans that remain in pain or have dysfunction. Don't look at outside the VA physical therapy as an attack on the VA physical therapists. Look at it as a way to get some collaboration from your colleagues.

      Posted by Brent Applebaum on 5/29/2018 11:27 AM

    • I am a physical therapist who owns a private practice in a small town. I am also a retired vet. When did being profitable become a crime? I am do grateful I am now able to see veterans, as they would ordinarily have to travel 4 hours to a center, which is ridiculous for PT services that occur regularly. A VA clinic here would not be able to support physical therapy services as we are so small. It is good to contract out services to.lighten the burden on the VA, not to take away from them. There is plenty of business to go around. Bottom line is quick, quality access. Get of the high horse about profit, this is a capitalistic republic we live in. Professionals from other countries give their eye teeth to come work here where they can actually have a way of life. Late not make profit a dirty word.

      Posted by Suzanne Thomas Graves on 5/30/2018 4:27 PM

    • We've been trying to get Triwest to pay for VA patients treatment by a PTA. They say there's no written rule, yet they won't. APTA was aware of the problem but haven't resolved the issue. We could get our vets in quicker if our PT could share the treatment load with the PTA. But he has to take patients with other types of insurance to get patients for the PTA to do.

      Posted by Debbe Klaja on 6/8/2018 4:14 PM

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