United Spinal’s advocacy to expand community choice for veterans is paying off! On May 23, The VA MISSION Act passed the Senate by a vote of 92-5 and provides more than $5 billion in funding for the VA Choice program. VCP is a program through which a Veteran can receive care from a community provider, paid for by the VA and which VetsFirst strongly supports. This bill will also update current eligibility criteria, granting wider access and more comprehensive medical care for veterans across the country, including pre-9/11 service era Veterans requiring assistance through the Family Caregiver Program.

The bill would streamline the department’s duplicative community care programs into one cohesive program; create a non-partisan process for reviewing VA’s assets to ensure veterans can access the care they have earned and expand the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Post-9/11 Caregiver Program to all eras. The bill also includes funding for the Choice Program that is expected to last until the new program authorized under the VA MISSION Act is implemented. Additionally, the bill contains a number of provisions that would strengthen VA’s internal capacity to provide timely, quality care to veteran patients within VA medical facilities by improving and expanding VA’s ability to train, recruit and retain the very best providers.

VetsFirst thanks Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT) for their relentless efforts in protecting Veterans’ health care rights, as well as the support of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee led by Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and all those who voted in support of this legislation. We look forward to the President’s signature and the implementation of this bill as law.