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VA MISSION Act goes live June 6

The VA MISSION Act will go into effect on June 6, 2019 and stands to be one of the most impactful changes to the way that VA provides health care for Veterans.

For the last year, VA has been working to develop regulations to implement the new MISSION Act, develop policies, train staff, and award contracts to furnish community care under the new legislation.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has been working hard to prepare for the roll-out and ensure the smoothest transition possible for Veteran patients that receive their care in the facility. At the Charleston VAMC, 99% of all clinics are meeting the current access to care standards that the MISSION Act outlines; within 20 days for Primary Care and Mental Health and within 28 days for Specialty Care from the requested appointment date. Throughout the process of the implementation of the MISSION Act, Charleston VAMC will strive to be the best provider of care for its Veterans while it works to offer those who qualify under the new standards’ appropriate community care options.

The new eligibility guidelines available now for the VA MISSION Act include:

  • Veteran needs a service not available at a VA medical facility
  • Veteran lives in a U.S. State or Territory without a full-service VA Medical Facility
  • Veteran qualifies under the “Grandfather” provision related to the distance eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program
  • VA is unable to furnish care within certain access standards (see below)
  • It is in the Veteran’s best medical interest
  • VA medical service line does not meet certain quality standards

These new guidelines will increase access to community care for most Veteran patients. Veterans may be eligible for community care under the MISSION Act if their drive time averages more than 30 minutes for primary care, mental health and non-institutional extended care, or 60 minutes average drive time for specialty care. Also, if a Veteran has more than a 20 day wait time for primary care, mental health care, and non-institutional extended care services or a 28 day wait time for specialty care from the date of request they will qualify as well.

The MISSION Act puts Veterans at the center of care to coordinate their care whether it’s at a VA facility or in partnership through a community provider.

The VA MISSION Act:

  1. Improves community care
  2. Expands eligibility for Caregiver Support
  3. Enhances VA’s ability to recruit and retain top notch employees
  4. Strengthens VA’s building infrastructure VA’s High Quality of Care:
    • A 2018 RAND study found VA health care performed similarly or better than the private sector. The study was issued by an American nonprofit organization that analyzes national inpatient and outpatient quality of care measures.
    • A 2019 Dartmouth College study found the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) may provide better care than the private sector in every local area. It also found VA health care was significantly better than non-VA care in 14 out of 15 quality and patient safety indicators.

The MISSION Act streamlines VA community care programs making it easier to navigate, for Veterans, their families, community providers, and VA employees.

The MISSION Act will also expand eligibility for VA’s Caregiver program. It will now include eligible Veterans from all eras of service. The expansion will occur in two phases. The first starts with those who were injured on or before May 7, 1975. Further expansion will occur two years later. The expansion timeline is still under development.

Going forward, there will be more information and specifics on how to access the care options, and how they will affect your care access in the future. Please continue to look out for more information from Charleston VAMC and be aware of the ongoing process.

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