Recently, North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) members alerted staff to major problems getting authorizations and payment for services for veterans accessing physician services through the Veterans Choice Program.
This program, authorized by Congress in 2014, is intended to give some veterans the option to seek care with private physicians outside the Veterans Affairs system. Many physicians, eager to help, signed up for the program, but have encountered numerous problems, including hours on the phone to get authorizations  and slow claims processing.
Since we began investigating these problems and working with members, we have compiled a list of 25 practices throughout the state encountering these difficulties. If you have experienced problems with the VA Choice program please email us at [email protected] or call Belinda McKoy at 919-833-3826 x142.
Upon learning of the problems, NCMS immediately contacted HealthNet, the organization responsible for administering the program for the VA. We continue to work with them to resolve the issues.
NCMS CEO Robert W. Seligson also called on US Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) to take legislative action to fix these issues. On Monday, Sen. Burr along with US Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Veterans Choice Improvement Act of 2016. This legislation proposes  changes to address the bureaucratic delays, hassles and confusion that veterans experience in attempting to get health care through the Veterans Choice program. It also makes the program permanent with advance funding.
“The creation of the Veterans Choice program nearly two years ago was a good start, but there is much more we need to do if we are going to fulfill our promises to our veterans. I’ve heard from many veterans in North Carolina who tell me that they are still experiencing significant frustrations and delay in getting health care,” Sen. Burr said. “My legislation cuts down on the bureaucratic delays, hassles and confusion that is standing in between veterans and the health care they need. Congress must take action on this legislation so that every American veteran will finally be able to rely on quality care without having to wait or drive far.”
Watch your NCMS Bulletin for updates on our work to resolve the problems with this program.