VA expands access to private doctors for veterans

Henrietta Strickland
June 8, 2019

The Mission Act replaced the Veterans Choice Program and allows veterans to more easily receive medical care from non-VA physicians and urgent care facilities.

"It's a monumental change, as always and how we always speak is just do the right thing for the veteran and get the veteran the care they need".

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs chose the anniversary of D-Day, June 6, to launch its new and improved Veterans Community Care Program. The agency received more than 23,000 comments on the proposed rule.

Congressman Jack Bergman, Ranking Member on the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, issued a release Wednesday about a new VA act.

The new program consolidates all the previous efforts, including Veterans Choice, into a single program.

VA can not furnish care in a manner that complies within certain designated access standards.

They'd also be eligible for private care if they have to wait 20 days or more for primary care or mental healthcare, or 28 days or more for specialty care. For specialists, the threshold is a 60-minute drive.

Twenty-eight days for specialty care from the date of request, unless the veteran agrees to a later date in consultation with his or her VA health care provider. This is a particular worry for mental health screening and treatment. For more than 70 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis. Despite increasing eligibility for community care, the VA states they do not expect the program to deplete their budget.

"We are honored to reaffirm our commitment to America's Veterans", said Butler VA's Director Jon Lasell.

Empowers Veterans with increased access to community care.

Robyn Bash, vice president of government relations at the American Hospital Association, said her organization was pleased with the final rule. Will the VA, which often has trouble making timely payments to providers, keep up with the expected influx?

Note: Average drive times are calculated by VA using geo-mapping software.

"They say they have training in place to implement everything smoothly", Fuentes said. "We doubt that's the case". "We've had 95-year-old veterans do this with us".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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