Veterans have more choices through local healthcare partnership

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Backlogs in the Veterans Administration have been experienced first-hand by many veterans, but now, locally, they have more choices when it comes to finding timely healthcare.

As of March 21, Providence Healthcare Network announced a partnership to provide care through the Veterans Choice Program, giving veterans the choice to receive care at Providence locations throughout Waco.

Katrina Linthicum, Director of Case Management with Providence, said this will save many veterans time and a lot of hassle.

“The main benefit to a veteran would be timely access to care and possibly, depending on where they live, more local access,” Linthicum said.

Now, qualified U.S. veterans who face wait times in excess of 30 days at the VA, or have to travel farther than 40 miles to their nearest VA full-time primary care provider, can receive care from Providence doctors.

Local veterans like Paul Hopkins, are taking advantage of the new partnership.

"Oh it saved me lots of time, plus you know I'm familiar with the hospital here and the people. It's just like being at home," Hopkins said.

Hopkins utilizes the Providence Sleep Center through the Veterans Choice Program, which keeps him from having to travel to Killeen for his treatments.

"Care can be anywhere from basic primary care to specialty care to lab work diagnostic,” Linthicum said.

The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 established funding to pay for health care services provided to veterans by private healthcare providers. Through the partnership, Providence physicians and other caregivers may be authorized to provide primary care, inpatient and outpatient specialty care, and mental health for eligible veterans outside of VA, a press release stated.

All care under the Veterans Choice Program is required to be pre-authorized by the VA.

"They should first contact the number on the back of their veteran's choice card and that will get them in touch with a tri west who will seek authorization from the VA,” Linthicum said.

As part of Ascension, the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare system and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Providence joins more than 2,000 Ascension sites of care in 24 states and the District of Columbia in sustaining and improving the health of individuals and communities by serving as an official provider of Veteran Care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs, a press release stated.