Donnelly Calls For Answers on Veterans Issues
Senator expresses concern to federal contractor about reports that Hoosier vets are having trouble accessing services.
As part of ongoing efforts to improve the Veterans Choice Program and address issues faced by some Northwest Indiana veterans, today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly expressed concern and asked questions of Health Net Federal Services, which operates the phone booking service veterans must use to schedule appointments. Donnelly sent a letter to Health Net following reports that Hoosier veterans are having trouble accessing services through Health Net operated phone lines. Donnelly asked Health Net for information on average hold times for Hoosier veterans calling to schedule an appointment, and what steps the vendor is taking to reduce phone wait times and other issues.
Donnelly wrote in part:
“I am concerned by reports indicating Hoosier veterans are having trouble accessing services through phone lines administered by your company.”
“…Recently, it has been reported that Hoosier veterans are experiencing long waits and disconnected calls when they contact Health Net Federal Services to use their Choice Program benefits. Specifically, these reports detail veterans in Northwest Indiana needing to make multiple calls and spending up to 90 minutes on the phone with representatives in order to determine eligibility or schedule an appointment.”
“…I understand Health Net Federal Services is working to overcome these issues. We share the goal of implementing an effective Choice Program, and I am committed to working with you to ensure that Hoosier veterans receive the timely and quality assistance they deserve.”
The bipartisan Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, which Donnelly supported and voted for, was signed into law in August 2014. Donnelly has been active in making improvements to the law, including on a provision that allows veterans to access non-VA providers if they live more than 40 miles from a VA health facility or face “an unusual or excessive burden” in accessing VA care. In late 2014, and again in early 2015, Donnelly and U.S. Representative Pete Visclosky(IN-01) sent the VA two letters requesting the VA consider travel times and the distance from appropriate care, rather than simply straight-line distance from a veteran’s home to the nearest VA facility.