Methodist Hospitals joins Veterans Choice to improve healthcare access - October 29, 2015

Methodist Hospitals is now part of the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), which enables military veterans to go to the Methodist Hospitals Gary Northlake and Merrillville Southlake healthcare facilities when the nearest Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center has a lack of available specialists, a long waiting period, or an extraordinarily long distance from the veteran’s home.

“I am thrilled that our veterans now have additional opportunities to receive the healthcare they so deserve. We are grateful that we can care for more of those individuals who served our country,” said Ray Grady, President and CEO of Methodist Hospitals.

Methodist Hospitals has been seeing veterans since early this year. The VCP began last year in an effort to give veterans more options and timely access to healthcare. According to the VA, it provides primary care, inpatient and outpatient specialty care, and mental health care.

“VCP is a volunteer program for civilian hospitals,” Matt Doyle, Methodist Hospitals CFO, said “several local veterans had been actively inquiring about the program.”
Veterans can become eligible for the program if they live farther than 40 miles from a VA facility or have a 30-day or longer wait for an appointment, according to the VA website.

The veterans must contact the VA clinic first, which sets up the appointment for them at Methodist Hospitals. Veterans can get a “Choice Card” from the VA by calling 1-866-606-8198. However, even veterans with a Choice Card must still work through the VA for appointments. The hospital cannot make appointments without authorization from the VA so that veterans don’t get stuck with an unexpected hospital bill for services that were not authorized.

Patients do not need to show their Choice Card at check in because the VA makes the appointment for them in advance if they are eligible. It is also important for those with VA benefits to note that this program applies only to elective ambulatory services, such as clinic visits and diagnostic exams authorized by their VA provider with the hospital billing the VA directly.

“We are very pleased to be able to extend this enhancement of service to our local veterans. It is something we’ve wanted to do for some time and this program really gave us the opportunity to do it,” said Grady. “Hopefully, the benefit increases access with less delay, with the authorization and continued involvement of their VA provider,” he said. “Our mission is to partner with all those in our communities to improve the health of those we serve, and this certainly fits well with that mission,” added Grady.

Methodist Hospitals is a community-based, not-for-profit health system with two full-service acute care facilities in Gary and Merrillville, Indiana, that has been leading the way to better health for residents of Northwest Indiana for almost 100 years. Methodist Hospitals offers a number of award – winning programs, including its Neuroscience, Oncology, Heart and Vascular Institutes and Breast Care Center. Its range of services also includes Bariatric Surgery services, Emergency & Trauma services, Orthopedics & Spine services, comprehensive Rehabilitation services, Behavioral Health and Home Health Services.

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