Georgia veterans get new community healthcare providers

The front entrance to the Atlanta VA medical Center, located on Clairmont Road in Decatur. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
The front entrance to the Atlanta VA medical Center, located on Clairmont Road in Decatur. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

A new agency will begin this month handling community healthcare for veterans in Georgia and other parts of the Southeast.

Community healthcare is when veterans go to doctors or businesses outside of the Veterans Affairs system, and was set up to speed veterans’ access to medical care.

The VA will, over the next 30 days, replace TriWest Healthcare Alliance with Optum Public Sector Solutions as the provider. Optum is responsible for signing up doctors and other healthcare providers into a network, and for coordinating service, records and payments.

Until the transition is complete, veterans will continue to receive care from their current community providers.

“We are confident it will greatly improve care coordination for veterans here in our area and improve the timeliness of payments to our local community providers,” said Atlanta VA Health Care System Director Ann Brown.

VA Secretary Robert L. Wilkie, said, “The new Community Care Network contract awards reflect our ongoing commitment to increasing veterans access to care and were designed based on feedback from veterans and other stakeholders.”

The community care system, refined under last year's MISSION Act passed by Congress, has had problems getting Georgian and other veterans in to see doctors in a timely manner. Georgia veterans particularly have had waits times of more than a month. Many complained to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the problems with the system.

The VA put out the contract for a provider and chose Optum last year.

Care providers under contract to TriWest will not be automatically enrolled in the new network. They must sign up with Optum to continue providing services to veterans.

Other locations to be served by Optum include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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