Local veteran says he has to pay for his own surgery

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Bruce Berreth, a veteran, says he has to pay $10,000-$12,000 out of pocket for his knee replacement surgery.

Berreth says he’s chosen to go to the Hughston Clinic but was told Hughston  no longer accepts VA referrals because the clinic is owed 1 and a half million dollars by the VA.

The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System which provides care for Veterans in our area says due to issues with processing of health care claims by the Veterans Choice Contract Provider, Health Net Federal Service, the Hughston clinic is currently not accepting Veterans Choice program referrals.

In the interim, CAVHCS continues to coordinate orthopedic care for Veterans in the Columbus, GA area by utilizing providers in LaGrange, GA, Opelika, AL. and with Martin Army Hospital at Ft. Benning, GA.

Berreth says he prefers Hughston.

We contacted HealthNet Federal Services which was awarded a contract by the VA in 2013 to administer the VA health care program, which includes billing processes, in Georgia. HealthNet emailed the following statement in response to our questions about the unpaid bills.


HEALTHNET STATEMENT:

It is our honor and responsibility to serve the veteran community. We strive to provide excellent service to every veteran, every time. Health Net Federal Services has no higher priority than the fulfillment of our Veterans Choice program obligations in support of our continuing and long-term commitment to the veteran community.

Developing a complex and consistent new program like Veterans Choice is a team effort, and HNFS is working closely with Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Columbus VA Medical Clinic, and the 12,000 local health care providers like the Hughston Clinic to ensure the state’s 42,000 veterans have the appropriate, coordinated and convenient care they have earned for their service to our nation.

Molly Tuttle
Director, Communications
Health Net Federal Services


CAVHCS STATEMENT

Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System takes the quality of the care it provides very seriously.  When problems occur, they are quickly identified and addressed. CAVHCS is experiencing a lack of available orthopedic surgeons in the Columbus, GA area. Our largest Non-VA Care provider of this service is the Hughston Clinic.  Due to issues with processing of health care claims by the Veterans Choice Contract Provider, Health Net Federal Service, the Hughston clinic is currently not accepting Veterans Choice program referrals. Health Net has assured CAVHCS leadership that they have been in constant communication with the Director of Reimbursement at Hughston Clinic in effort to work towards resolution regarding their claims.  In the interim, CAVHCS continues to coordinate orthopedic care for Veterans in the Columbus, GA area by utilizing providers in LaGrange, GA, Opelika, AL. and with Martin Army Hospital at Ft. Benning, GA.

Kimberly Lackey-Bowen

Public Affairs

Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System


Statement received from HealthNet at 10:52 p.m.

Health Net Federal Services is working closely with the Hughston Clinic and the Columbia VA Medical Center to resolve any billing issues.

Molly Tuttle

Director, Communications

Health Net Federal Services

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