The VA Mission Act of 2018 is designed to greatly improve veteran access to VA healthcare. The VA Mission Act addresses in-network and non-VA healthcare issues, veterans’ homes, access to walk-in VA care, prescription drug procedures, and much more.
This VA reform law affects a wide range of areas and the “official” name of this law says a lot of about its’ focus; informally known as the VA Mission Act, this legislation’s formal name is the VA Maintaining Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act.
President Trump signed the Mission Act into law on June 6, 2018. The VA now must work on the criteria to be considered including wait times for VA appointments, quality of VA care and distance from a VA facility.
The VA Mission Act does some important things in the short term as well as introducing long-care fixes. The short term improvements are crucial for some veterans; the Act eliminates a gap in care due to funding issues associated with the VA Choice program. VA Choice funding ended on May 31, 2018. VA Choice was designed to help veterans get non-VA healthcare if distance or wait list issues are a problem. VA Choice continues to be funded in the short-term until replaced.
The long-term fixes are associated with the replacement of VA Choice; the VA Mission Act consolidates seven different programs offering community care including VA Choice into a single entity. Funding is also provided for education and training, VA medical staff recruitment, and a review of VA medical facilities. This review process is intended as the first step in a modernization program for VA locations that need upgrades.
A significant improvement under the VA Mission Act is that the Department of Veterans Affairs is now required to provide, “access to community care if VA does not offer the care or services the veteran requires, VA does not operate a full-service medical facility in the state a veteran resides, the veteran was eligible for care in the community under the 40-mile rule in the Veterans Choice Program” and when the veteran meets certain requirements. The VA is required to enter into contracts with private networks to insure veterans get this care when warranted.
The VA is now authorized to enter Veteran Care Agreements with State Veterans Homes with the purpose of eliminating competitive contracting; State Veterans Homes are not technically considered to be federal contractors, but under the VA Mission Act these homes are required to follow federal Fraud, Waste, And Abuse requirements.