Today, Congressman Mike Michaud, Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health, welcomed Kris Doody, the CEO of Cary Medical Center in Caribou, who provided testimony at a hearing the subcommittee held on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) "Fee Basis Program," which allows veterans to receive care through non-VA providers.
This year, Cary Medical Center celebrated their 25th year of hosting the nation's first VA community-based outpatient clinic and they continue to be leaders in providing high quality care to Maine's veterans. Doody's testimony focused on Project ARCH, a three year pilot program Michaud worked to pass into law that is currently allowing veterans in Maine to receive care at Cary Medical Center. According to Cary Medical Center, veterans have completed almost 1,000 clinical encounters, including surgical procedures and inpatient hospital stays, through Project ARCH.
"Kris Doody's testimony highlighted a number of things that could further improve this already successful program, and I thank her for her leadership and continued commitment to Maine's veterans," said Michaud. "I will urge the VA to focus on the suggested improvements highlighted today as we further evaluate this pilot program and others like it around the country. Our ultimate goal must be to expand the availability of health care to all veterans in all rural areas. This is the least we can do to live up to our shared commitment to them."
"The hospital has worked closely with its VA contracting office and has established a team of key stakeholders in the care delivery process including clinical personnel, case management staff, administration, finance and other aspects of the project," said Doody, whose full testimony can be found here. "While the project is just now completing its first year of operations nearly 1,000 clinical encounters including a number of surgical procedures and hospital stays have been completed. We are now in the process of assessing the outcomes and opportunities for improvement. The vigilance of the VA in monitoring quality and patient satisfaction for veterans eligible for healthcare close to home is admirable."
BACKGROUND ON FEE BASIS PROGRAM
The VA can make payments to non-VA health care providers under many arrangements. The most common are sharing agreements with affiliate medical schools and contracts with medical specialists. Non-VA care may also be authorized under the Fee Basis program when VA cannot offer needed care, when a non-VA provider would be economical, on an emergency basis when travel to a VA facility is medically infeasible, or when satisfying patient wait-time requirements. In addition, VA may place a veteran in a private or state-run nursing home when a bed in a VA nursing home is unavailable or if the nursing home is distant from the patient's residence. Payments for these types of care fall under the Fee Basis program.