More on Reimbursement

Florida Hospital Association says U.S. Veterans Affairs Department owes them $134 million

Association survey says the VA has almost 30,000 unpaid claims in Florida, some more than a year old.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

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A survey from the Florida Hospital Association has found that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is behind on its bills to Florida hospitals -- about $134 million behind.

The VA is looking at almost 30,000 unpaid claims in Florida, according to the survey, more than 10,000 of which are over a year old. Almost 6,000 are over two years old.

Republican Congressman David Jolly signed a letter demanding an explanation from VA secretary Robert McDonald.

"The outside providers have to get paid for their work and what we've learned is that the doctors on the outside are not getting paid by the VA, and that's wrong because ultimately it reduces access to care for veterans," he said.

[Also: VA reopening enrollment to thousands of veterans]

Health Net, a healthcare provider for low-income individuals and those needing assistance, issued a statement in response to recommendations to overhaul the provider payment process. The statement reads, in part: "Waiting six months for a claim to be processed is not what Health Net wants for doctors and we apologize to any who may have experienced this kind of wait."

The provider said it agrees with calls from the VA to implement a simpler payment process.

"We believe it could help reduce confusion and payment errors by standardizing reimbursement practices with the Medicare program, which is more widely accepted by physicians."

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Health Net said its Veterans Choice program is still experiencing "growth pains."

"In 2015, the number of Veterans Choice provider claims submitted to Health Net in the 37 states where we administer the program on behalf of the VA grew nearly 500 percent, to an average of more than 100,000 monthly," said Health Net. "This is on top of the 34,000 medical appointments we made and 230,000 phone calls we answered monthly in late 2015."

Twitter: @JELagasse