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Veterans Choice Program is Fulfilling the Promise for Bend Veterans

Bend, Ore. (April 23, 2018) - In 2015, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, VA and the community providers in Bend, Oregon, came together to form a public-private partnership to leverage the Veterans Choice Program to serve the health care needs of Bend’s Veterans, closer to home. Prior to that time, Veterans would have to travel four or more hours to Portland for anything beyond the most basic care. Today, thanks to the partnership between VA and 850 community providers, 92% of Veterans in Bend have used the Veterans Choice Program to access needed health care services close to home.

Four years ago this month, wait lists of Veteran patients at Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers were first discovered at a variety of VA facilities across the country. Congress acted quickly to help Veterans receive timely care, and passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act which was signed into law by President Obama in August 2014.

This act required the design and implementation of the Veterans Choice Program to provide VA with the ability to leverage community care to meet the needs of Veterans when they would be faced with wait times longer than 30 days or, in the case of Veterans living in Bend, Oregon, when the closest VA medical facility was farther than 40 miles from their residence – such as over a mountain pass.

TriWest partnered alongside VA and selected Bend, Oregon, as one of six locations to highlight how the Choice Program would help provide optimal elasticity for Veteran health care…not privatization. By sheer design of the program, Veterans in Central Oregon would no longer have to drive a couple hundred miles for care if they chose not to – instead, Veterans had the option to use a network of local community care providers who agreed to serve them in support of VA’s sacred mission.

In Bend, Oregon, use of the Veterans Choice Program has grown by 200% since the program began in 2015.

“I would like thank the 849 community providers who have stepped forward and cared for over 4,300 individual Veterans thus far. These health care practitioners have provided nearly 13,000 Veteran appointments for needs such as orthopedics, radiology, primary care and neurosurgery,” said Dave McIntyre, President and CEO, TriWest Healthcare Alliance. “Without the Choice program, these Veterans would otherwise either have been significantly inconvenienced or gone without care because of the tyranny of distance.”

Across the entire state of Oregon, 10,600 community health care providers have scheduled 153,000 appointments for Veterans through the Choice Program.

“To those doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who serve Oregon’s Veterans – thank you! You are making a difference,” said McIntyre.

Similar success of the Veterans Choice Program has been demonstrated across TriWest’s entire 28 state area of operation. To date, over 1.1 million Veterans have been served through the network TriWest’s non-profit health plans and University hospital system owners have built. That network of over 200,000 community providers has scheduled 8.3 million appointments for Veterans in support of VA.

The appointments are scheduled within five days on average and the Veteran is seen by the health care professional on average within 15 days. Nationwide, TriWest has now processed and paid its 10 millionth claim for health care rendered by these network providers in local communities.

“This represents real progress for those who deserve it most – our nation’s heroes. Not privatization, but an effective public-private partnership – where the great community of Bend, Oregon led the way!” said McIntyre.

About TriWest Healthcare Alliance

TriWest Healthcare Alliance serves our nation’s heroes as the partner of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in administering Veterans Choice Program (VCP) and the Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) program. TriWest has been On a Mission to Serve®America’s military families and Veterans since 1996 delivering award-winning customer service and providing access to high-quality health care. The company’s official website is www.triwest.com.