COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo - Nothing concrete yet out of the meeting between Assistant Defense Secretary, Dr. Jonathan Woodson and UnitedHealthcare, Chief Executive Officer Steve Hemsley, and other UHC officials over the health insurance that affects thousands of military and their families.
Department of Defense spokesperson, Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson sent me this quote attributable to her about the meeting, "TRICARE Management Activity continues to work with UnitedHealthcare to ensure that the Department of Defense's beneficiaries receive appropriate, timely and high quality medical care. Since the transition of the TRICARE contract to UnitedHealth Care on April 1, 2013, our staff has been engaged in actively solving issues related to claims processing, provider payments, referral authorizations and network adequacy. We are committed to providing the best health care services to our beneficiaries whether they live in Colorado or in other parts of the world."
Earlier today, I spoke with Kyle Nelson who is with the Colorado Springs Orthopedic Group. He was among the health care providers who attended a closed door meeting on Wednesday with Dr. Woodson and Congressman Doug Lamborn. Nelson told me that this meeting was a lot different than a meeting in May that Congressman Lamborn hosted with health care providers, "It wasn't as vitriol as the last time but there is still some undercurrent of frustrations." Nelson went on to talk about the a concern that his group is feeling right now, "The biggest issue is getting approval on procedures, especially the military folks who have urgent and pressing needs. It's taken far too long at this point." Kyle Nelson says that what used to take a week to get an approval now takes more than a month with U-H-C.
Kyle Nelson is still hopeful that a solution can be resolved by U-H-C and that the meeting was helpful, "I wouldn't say the meeting was empty rhetoric. I would say that this is a mixed bag. The jury is still out on this."