Rep. Comstock Joins Virginia Delegation Sending Letter to VA Sec. Shulkin On Late Choice Payments
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (VA-10) joined the entire Virginia Delegation, led by Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1), in a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), Dr. David Shulkin, regarding the VA’s late payment to Veterans Choice Program (VCP) providers.
In August of 2014, Congress authorized veterans to access private health providers to assist the overwhelmed VA Health Care system. Congress continues to fund the program; however, the VA has repeatedly struggled to make prompt payments to outside health providers as required by the law. Throughout the Commonwealth, health providers such as Riverside Health, Carilion Clinic, Wellmont Health System, and many more have experienced late payments for their services to our veterans through the VA Choice Program (VCP). In many cases, the payments from the VA come as late 120 days, or longer, past the date services were provided.
“VA related claims have taken an average of 177 days to be paid, or 3.5 times longer than the average of all third party payers,” said Mark Duncan, Director of Government Relations at Riverside Health System. “In one of the most egregious examples, a veteran was discharged on October 16, 2014. Reimbursement for that patient’s services was received from the VA on June 12, 2017—961 days following discharge.”
“In Virginia’s 10th Congressional district, one dental facility was owed in excess of $203,000 through the VCP,” the delegation letter says. “The situation has gotten so dire that a Veteran who had used this facility to get VA approved dentures ultimately had them withheld due to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s (VAMC) nonpayment.”
Exacerbating the late payment problem is the fact that VA employees are making duplicate payments to certain providers, as highlighted by a recent memorandum released by the VA’s Inspector General (IG). The IG noted that some third-party administrators are receiving overpayments due to improper training and administration on the VA side, which results in the delayed payments to providers who are still waiting to be reimbursed.
“We want the Department of Veterans Affairs and VCP to succeed. We have done our part to continue to fund VCP, now we need you to properly administer the program,” the delegation wrote. “Our health providers who have stood up and answered the call to provide services to veterans and, most importantly, our veterans deserve a health care system that works. Do not jeopardize the care our veterans receive due to poor processes.”
The Members requested the VA fix this problem and immediately develop a long-term solution aimed at ensuring that payments are made within 30 days of receiving an invoice. They also request clarification on the future of third party administrators involved with the Veterans Choice Program.
Virginia Delegation members signing the letter include, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, and U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (VA-1), Scott Taylor (VA-2), Bobby Scott (VA-3), A. Donald McEachin (VA-4), Tom Garrett, Jr. (VA-5), Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), Dave Brat (VA-7), Don Beyer (VA-8), H. Morgan Griffith (VA-9), Barbara Comstock (VA-10), and Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11).