VA Lays Groundwork for Private Health Care

Tarchyshnik Andrei/Shutterstock.com

The agency wants the private sector to manage a key part of project.

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to outsource issuance and administration of the “Veteran's Choice Card,” a key provision of legislation signed last month by President Barack Obama that allows veterans to seek health care from private providers outside the Veterans Health Administration network of 950-plus hospitals and clinics.

In contracting documents, VA said a third-party administrator will manage the creation and distribution of the Veteran's Choice Card, which vets can use to obtain services from private sector clinicians and hospitals as called for in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. 

The card will contain the veteran’s name, an identifying number that is not a Social Security number, VA provider contact information and the following language:

‘‘This card is for qualifying medical care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs. Please call the Department of Veterans Affairs phone number specified on this card to ensure that treatment has been authorized.’’

VA said the third-party administrator will also set up a call center to provide education to veterans and providers on program details and respond to veteran and clinician inquiries. The call center will track, monitor and provide reports on veteran use of private health care and manage claims adjudication and payment.

The legislation allows veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA health facility to seek private care. The choice card database will use that metric to determine whether the veteran can access private care. The database will also estimate the costs of outside care and collect and verify information on other types of health insurance used by veterans.

On Wednesday, VA will hold an industry day to obtain insights on the project at its Denver Acquisition and Logistic Center, which performs supply chain management for VA and other government agencies.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a statement, “We look forward to the opportunity to partner with the private sector to implement this new law and provide veterans with a customer service experience that meets their needs.”

(Image via Tarchyshnik Andrei/Shutterstock.com)

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