February 26, 2020

Senator Hassan Calls for Answers from VA on Claims Backlog

WASHINGTON – Following reports of $134 million in unpaid claims that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) owes New Hampshire health care providers, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie calling for answers on what the VA is doing to address the claims backlog. The claims stem from veterans accessing care through the VA’s Community Care Network, in which veterans can visit providers who offer services outside of the VA system, ranging from home health aides to acupuncturists to emergency room services.

 

“As you know, providing access to high quality health care to the brave men and women who have served our nation is a top priority,” wrote Senator Hassan. “Across the country, the Community Care Network program is critical to providing medical services for veterans no matter their location, especially in New Hampshire which lacks a full service VA Medical Center. Failure to pay the providers who support this critical network of services to our veterans is unacceptable.”

 

Senator Hassan has helped lead efforts to support veterans’ health care. In December, President Trump signed into law legislation cosponsored by Senator Hassan aimed at reducing the high suicide rate among veterans by ensuring that the VA has sufficient staff to support veterans in crisis. The president also signed bipartisan legislation last year cosponsored by Senator Hassan to ensure that “Blue Water” Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange get the health care benefits that they deserve. The VA Mission Act that was signed into law in 2018 included key priorities for Senator Hassan such as expanding the Community Care Network, preventing substance misuse among veterans, making it easier for veterans to access telehealth, and expanding the VA caregiver programs to cover all veterans.  

 

Read Senator Hassan’s letter to the VA here and below:

 

Dear Secretary Wilkie,

 

I write to express my concern regarding the estimated $134 million of backlogged claims that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has yet to pay to health care providers throughout New Hampshire. These claims date back to Health Net, the previous contractor who administered the Community Care Network program for Region 1. While these health providers have been assured that the backlog of claims is being addressed, they experienced persistent, widespread delays and errors in payments last year, and the VA has yet to resolve these claims. My office has heard from several constituents who have been faced with those delays and were concerned about the impact such delays would have on their operations.

 

As you know, providing access to high quality health care to the brave men and women who have served our nation is a top priority. Across the country, the Community Care Network program is critical to providing medical services for veterans no matter their location, especially in New Hampshire which lacks a full service VA Medical Center. Failure to pay the providers who support this critical network of services to our veterans is unacceptable.

 

At a recent hearing held by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Dr. Richard Stone and his colleagues with the Veterans Health Administration testified that there are 2.5 million claims across the country that are still backlogged, but reaffirmed the VA's goal to clear out that backlog by the end of this fiscal year. While I applaud their willingness to commit to a timeline, I request more details on how the backlog is being handled and how you will ensure that timeline is met.

 

I appreciate your continued effort to resolve this situation and care for veterans in New Hampshire and across the country, and I look forward to your timely response.

 

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