Q: The Tricare West contract is currently transitioning from UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans to HealthNet Federal Services. Given your past experience with the Tricare system in our community, how are you able to help providers and beneficiaries?
A: With over 172,000 Tricare beneficiaries in the Pikes Peak region, I’m very sensitive to the challenges and potentially devastating healthcare impacts that arise during the transition between contractors. The 2013 contract transition from TriWest to UnitedHealthcare M&V was extremely challenging. Providers experienced severe delays in medical reimbursements that put enormous financial burdens on practices of all sizes. We nearly lost a local autism center as a result. The complicated referral process caused extended delays for patients who required critical care or timely specialty services. As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I brought the
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health to Colorado Springs to engage directly with local providers and individual beneficiaries. Soon after, we began to see dramatic improvements in all problem areas. Currently, I’m proactively working with HealthNet to ensure a smooth transition and prevent any reoccurrence of those same issues. I will continue to partner with the regional medical community to ensure care for our service members, veterans, and their families remains the best in the nation.
Q: Do you have any concerns with the increased consolidation in health care?
A: Consolidation of health care providers and networks is a significant issue. You don’t always hear about it on the news, but it’s happening. Sometimes mergers are good and necessary for increasing quality health care. But often concentration of power does more harm than good. I’m a big proponent of increasing competition in the health care marketplace. This keeps health care entities from becoming monopolies, it enhances patient care, and ultimately drives down costs for those seeking care in our community. I’ve also seen that as consolidation increases, provider networks shrink. People lose access to their doctors and are placed in a tough situation while they’re forced to look elsewhere for their care. I want robust competition and robust networks so that my constituents can have access to the highest quality care available. That’s what I’m fighting for on Capitol Hill.
Contact Congressman Lamborn’s office if you are a patient or a provider who has issues with the upcoming rollout of the Healthnet Federal Services Tricare contract.