Press Release: Rounds, Isakson Request Clarification from VA on New Billing Rule

Rounds, Isakson Request Clarification from VA on New Billing Rule

MikeRounds official SenateWASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-G.A.) today sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald requesting that the VA clarify their billing rule change for home health and hospice providers.

“Providing timely and adequate health care to our veterans is of utmost importance,” said Rounds. “I appreciate the VA’s efforts to reimburse home health and hospice care for our vets, but we have concerns that the manner in which they are doing so is inefficient and ineffective. We must make certain the process is in the best interest of our veterans.”

“At a time when the VA is implementing sweeping reforms to expand accessible and quality care for our nation’s veterans through the Veterans’ Choice Program, it is alarming that it continues to have such difficulties processing payments to non-VA healthcare providers based on a rule adopted in 2013,” said Isakson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “I urge the VA to swiftly address this problem and reform these bureaucratic inefficiencies in order to better serve the needs of America’s veterans.”

Full text of the letter follows:

April 29, 2015

The Honorable Robert McDonald
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Secretary McDonald:

We are writing with concerns regarding the implementation of a billing methodology change for home health and hospice providers. We appreciate your attention and response to our request.

As you are aware, in November of 2011 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed a final rule to establish payments for home health services and hospice care by non-VA providers. VA then proposed a final rule change for the payment methodology for non-VA home health and hospice providers in May of 2013. The effective date for the change was June 2014, but was not implemented until last fall.

The change to the new billing process has been burdensome and confusing for providers across the nation. Home health caregivers have received conflicting information about specific implementation details. VA has promised to provide thorough direction to navigate the rule change. However, it does not appear the guidance is reaching the providers, resulting in untimely or absent payments. Ultimately, these delays can affect veterans’ access to care, which as members of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs deeply concerns us.

Although we appreciate the VA’s attempt to reimburse care for vital services like home health and hospice care, bureaucratic inefficiencies within VA seem to be hindering the effort to better serve veterans. We request VA clarify this rule as soon as possible and expedite all outstanding payments to all appropriate providers. We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to your response.