The VA had paid some providers who were not employees on a fee-for-service basis, Bell said. Those providers have been offered part-time employment with the VA. They can also become intermittent workers.
Part-time workers qualify for benefits, including health insurance and retirement, and work set hours, Bell said. Intermittent employees are called when they are needed and do not receive benefits. “We’re not doing this because we feel like it,” she said. “We have a law governing us.”
Fee-basis nurses across Montana’s VA health system have already been converted to part-time or intermittent employees. “I don’t think that has affected their pay,” Bell said.
The VA is in the process of converting other providers, whose pay could be affected. There are 12 VA outpatient clinics in Montana, an inpatient hospital in Helena and a long-term care center in Miles City.