The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has awarded the contract for our regional Community Care Network (CCN). The upcoming changes will benefit both veterans and local providers. The VA has committed to providing eligible veterans with the care they need. In an effort to streamline the VA’s community care programs, the president signed the VA Mission Act into legislation providing more choices and robust care coordination for veterans using one program instead of multiple programs.

The CCN is to be the regional network that serves the VA to purchase care in the community. The existing Patient Centered Community Care (PC3) and the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) will transition out to allow for the CCN implementation to occur. The CCN has several features that will improve care coordination and make it easier to administer regional networks of local health care providers who will work together with VA physicians to provide medical services to eligible veterans.

The CCN will allow VA staff to directly manage veterans for customer service while the Third Party Administrators (TPAs) will support VA staff and community provider inquiries. Performance will be measured at the local Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) level to help ensure TPAs build provider networks that meet the needs of veterans and VAMCs.

The CCN will also enable the designation of high-performing, preferred providers, by identifying providers that meet specific quality and performance metrics. CCN will have direct health information sharing capability between VA and community providers to ensure proper care coordination. VA staff will now refer veterans directly to community providers and will directly schedule community care appointments for veterans through the local VAMC. Veterans can also choose to schedule their own appointment with support from local VA staff. TPAs will pay claims submitted by community providers within the network they administer and the TPAs will send invoices directly to VA for reimbursement.

I am excited about moving our health care decisions more firmly in to the hands of medical providers, and not third-party billing agencies. Putting the VA medical department front and center should ensure we can get what we need with minimal aggravation. I know, I am an optimist.

Charles B. Elliott is veterans service officer for Franklin County. He can be reached at 653-8096, by cellphone at 653-7051, or by email to Veteranservice@franklincountyflorida.com