A New Hampshire-based Right at Home franchise cancelled care for several veterans due to lack of payment by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), and they’re not the only company to have billing issues with VA.
“Unfortunately, we are not the only home care agency that has had difficulty receiving payment for the services provided,” Margaret Haynes, the COO of Right at Home corporate, said in an emailed statement to Home Health Care News.
The Right at Home franchise discontinued service for 16 veterans under its care, The Boston Globe reported on Aug. 14.
Omaha, Nebraska-based Right at Home is an in-home provider with more than 500 franchise locations in the United States and seven other countries.
The non-payment issue has more to do with lack of information from the home care provider, rather than any issues at VA, according to the federal agency.
The bottom line is that the VA requires that community providers include the veteran’s full Social Security number on the claim form, Curt Cashour, VA press secretary, said in an emailed statement to HHCN.
“We have informed Right at Home of this requirement and asked them to resubmit any invoices that didn’t have Social Security number,” Cashour wrote. “VA stands ready to process invoices from Right at Home as soon as they are properly submitted.”
Those veterans that were discontinued from Right at Home have since been offered care by other providers in the area, according to the Boston Globe article. And that is due to VA working with the affected veterans to find the care they need, Cashour said.
Gina Balkus, CEO at Home Care, Hospice & Palliative Care Alliance of New Hampshire, spoke with several member agencies about payment issues.
Some reported no problems at all and others noted issues that occurred sporadically, she said to HHCN.
Home Care, Hospice & Palliative Care Alliance of New Hampshire is a nonprofit membership association for home care agencies licensed in New Hampshire.
Across the country
“I don’t think this is a New Hampshire specific issue. I have heard this discussed by other state association executives across the country,” said Balkus.
Criticism around delayed payments has been reported by many providers and individuals across the health industry, according to the Boston Globe article.
VA is working to make improvements in the process, according to Cashour.
The department increased contractor support for processing authorized claims from 140,000 claims in January 2018 to more than 700,000 claims a month in July. VA is also optimizing staffing by standardizing roles, accelerating hiring and using contracted claims processing and verification support.
“Home care providers represented by the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) have reported problems with delays in VA payments showing receivables overdue by 90 days or longer, in some cases amounting to thousands of dollars of lingering unreimbursed payments from home care services provided,” according to HCAOA Executive Director Phil Bongiorno in an emailed statement to HHCN.
While a larger agency may be able to carry that cost, smaller providers rely on those payments to make payroll, Balkus said.
“Without the VA reimbursing for the services provided in a timely manner, any company will have significant cash flow issues because the wonderful caregivers who are providing the care are, as they should be, paid timely,” said Right at Home’s Haynes. “Long reimbursement cycles have a huge impact in the overall sustainability of any business.”
Written by Kaitlyn Mattson