The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act was signed into law in early June 2018 to ensure that veterans have access to high quality and timely healthcare. United Spinal Association and VetsFirst highlighted the concerns around veterans healthcare at our  7th Roll on Capitol Hill 2018, United Spinal’s signature legislative and advocacy conference in late June.

The VA Mission Act will do the following:

  1. Streamline the VA’s Community Care Programs
    1. It will consolidate seven VA community care programs into one streamlined program.
    2. Removes arbitrary 30-day/40-mile barriers to veterans’ care in the community.
    3. Authorizes access to walk-in community clinics and enrolled veterans who have previously used VA healthcare services in the last two years.
    4. Authorizes local provider agreements to remove bureaucratic red tape and to meet veterans’ needs for care in the community.
  2. Improve VA Healthcare Delivery
    1. Removes barriers for VA healthcare professionals to practice telemedicine.
    2. Provides additional resources for hiring and retention of VA healthcare professionals.
    3. Strengthens peer-to-peer support for veterans undergoing care for trauma or in rural areas.
    4. Establishes mobile deployment teams for underserved and rural facilities to provide specialized routine health care.
  3. Expand Caregivers
    1. Expands eligibility for VA’s Caregiver Programs to veterans of all generations.
    2. Requires VA to implement an information technology system to better support, assess and monitor the program.

For more information please visit here. Stay tuned to VetsFirst for further updates.

VA Mission Act of 2018.pdf

The VA Choice program has allowed hundreds of thousands of veterans to receive timely and adequate care without excessive appointment wait times or travel requirements.

Support and Improve Healthcare Access for Veterans

BACKGROUND

Over the past several years, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has struggled to maintain effective funding for its widely used Community Care Program, more commonly known as “Choice”. While many veterans feel they receive adequate health care services from VA facilities and staff, others require care at outside facilities due to geographic location, ability to travel, or the need for subspecialty care not provided by local VA facilities. Additionally, many veterans choose to use the Choice program to seek care due to the ongoing negative media coverage and perceived reputation of VA.

Currently, VA regulations restrict non-VA medical facilities or providers from providing access to rural veterans, or disabled veterans who may have difficulty traveling. Currently, veterans who live outside a 40-mile radius from a VA facility, or who cannot be seen by a VA doctor within 30 days, are permitted to see a provider at an approved non-VA facility through Choice. In addition to the ongoing inconsistencies with scheduling practices and appointment availability at VA facilities nationwide, this restriction hampers veterans’ ability to receive medical attention for service-connected injuries and illnesses.

The VA Choice program has allowed hundreds of thousands of veterans to receive timely and adequate care without excessive appointment wait times or travel requirements. The Choice program, although enacted as a temporary relief program as a result of the VA scandal in 2014, has proven itself useful and necessary. Requiring permanent enactment of this program will provide continued access to necessary medical care for veterans across the nation.

VetsFirst is proud to support Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair, Senator Johnny Isakson’s VA MISSION Act of 2018 (S. 2372) and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair, Representative Phil Roe’s H.R. 5674 which was signed into law by President Trump on 6/6/2018. This legislation provides funding for veterans to receive wider access to medical facilities and providers for service-connected, and non-service-connected illnesses and injuries, until a permanent community care program is established within VA.

Public Law No. 115-182:

  • establishes a Community Care Program at the VA;
  • authorizes operations on live donors where veterans are eligible for transplant procedures;
  • sets clear healthcare access guidelines and standards for quality care;
  • provides education and training programs on health care options to veterans and VA and non-VA personnel;
  • expands the family caregiver program at the VA; and,
  • works towards establishing a high-performing integrated healthcare network

 VETSFIRST REQUEST TO SENATORS

Cosponsor and pass legislation that will provide permanent funding to bolster the VA Choice program, and nurture existing health care opportunities available to Veterans across the nation.