Montana hospitals, TRICARE working toward new in-network agreement for veteran healthcare

by KULR, Tyson Adams

BILLINGS, Mont. – A major regional healthcare insurance provider is affecting veterans and federal government employees in Billings and elsewhere.

As of January 1, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare, among other Montana healthcare providers, were no longer on their list of in network providers.

Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare said they are still accepting TRICARE coverage, but at this time, not in network.

Billings Clinic spokesperson, Arianne Snyder, said the issue rests with Health Net Federal Services. HNFS is the new contractor for TRICARE Western Region.

Snyder said they are waiting for HNFS to sign documents that would serve to reinstate TRICARE as an in network provider.

Billings Clinic has made every effort to finalize a contract with Health Net Federal Services, the new contractor for the TRICARE Western Region; and we are hopeful for a resolution. Billings Clinic continues to accept TRICARE as a participating provider and we encourage patients to continue to receive health care services. We also encourage patients to contact TRICARE if they have questions about coverage. – Billings Clinic

St. Vincent Healthcare is also working toward an agreement with Health Net.

St. Vincent Healthcare has signed a contract with HealthNet Federal Services to provide healthcare for Tricare patients. At this point, we are awaiting signatures from HealthNet in order to have a fully executed contract between both parties. In regards to patients with healthcare needs who are members of Tricare, we will provide access to care to honor the agreement signed by us. We appreciate Senator Tester’s involvement and hope to have this situation resolved quickly. – St. Vincent Healthcare

KULR-8 was also told this issue could be solved as early as Friday, January 12.

Senator Jon Tester wrote a letter to HNFS demanding answers about the situation. KULR-8 was told five U.S. Senators are meeting with HNFS officials next week. You can see Sen. Tester’s letter below.

Senator Steve Daines office tells KULR-8 he is disappointed and frustrated by Health Net’s performance on VA Choice and he will be on a committee with Senator Tester, Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, and Colorado Senator Cory Gardener. This Defense Appropriations Subcommittee will watch Health Net’s performance during the 9-month transition period and will make future funding decisions accordingly.

Congressman Greg Gianforte said he is also working to get answers from HNFS.

Montana veterans have reached out to me with troubling issues they’ve faced with Health Net. The company’s conduct and practices are unacceptable and must change, which I have shared with Health Net’s leadership. I’ll continue working to get to the bottom of this and ensure that our military and veterans receive the high-quality care they deserve. I encourage veterans to reach out to my office with any problem they’re facing. – Congressman Greg Gianforte

Health Net Federal Services tells us they continue to work to come to a contract agreement with all previous TRICARE participating providers. In the meantime, there will be a waiver for the program.

It is important for beneficiaries in Montana, and across the West Region, to know that if a provider is not in our network, the DoD has established a waiver for the first 90 days of the program of the higher out of pocket fees beneficiaries would otherwise pay. This gives providers ample opportunity to join as a network provider if they choose to do so. However, if providers decide not to join the HNFS network, TRICARE beneficiaries can still see these providers (as non-network) if they choose, but with a slightly higher out of pocket cost. – Molly Tuttle, Director of Communications for Health Net Federal Services

We will continue to update this story as it develops. Check back for updates.