, DE — WILMINGTON, Del. — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is set to launch its new and improved community care program on June 6.
CONTACT: Brendan Mackie, Public Affairs Officer
PHONE: (302) 932-3762
Wilmington VA on a ‘MISSION’ to roll out new VA health care options
WILMINGTON, Del. — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is set to launch its new and improved community care program on June 6. The roll-out implements portions of the John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act of 2018, which both ends the Veterans Choice Program and establishes the new Veterans Community Care Program.
The MISSION Act serves to strengthen the nationwide VA Health Care System by empowering Veterans to have more options in their health care decisions.
Under the new Veterans Community Care Program, Veterans can now work with their VA health care provider or other VA staff to see if they are eligible to receive community care. Eligibility for community care does not require a Veteran to receive that care in the community; Veterans can still choose to have VA provide their care. Veterans are eligible to choose to receive care in the community if they meet any of the following six eligibility criteria:
- A Veteran needs a service not available at any VA medical facility.
- A Veteran lives in a U.S. state or territory without a full-service VA medical facility. Specifically, this would apply to Veterans living in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire and U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands.
- A Veteran qualifies under the “grandfather” provision related to distance eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program.
- VA cannot furnish care in a manner that complies within certain designated access standards. The specific access standards are described below, however, these standards are proposed and not yet final.
- Average drive time to a specific VA medical facility
- Thirty-minute average drive time for primary care, mental health and noninstitutional extended care services.
- Sixty-minute average drive time for specialty care.
Note: Average drive times are calculated by VA using geo-mapping software.
- Appointment wait time at a specific VA medical facility
- Twenty days for primary care, mental health care and noninstitutional extended care services, unless the Veteran agrees to a later date in consultation with his or her VA health care provider.
- 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.
- The Veteran and the referring clinician agree it is in the best medical interest of the Veteran to receive community care based on defined factors.
- VA has determined that a VA medical service line is not providing care in a manner that
complies with VA’s standards for quality.
To help employees prepare for this transformation and others under the MISSION Act, the Wilmington VA Medical Center and its outpatient clinics are dedicating the month of May to readiness.
“We’re focused because it’s important that these new benefits and appropriate options are effectively communicated to our Veterans, staff, and community partners,” said Vince Kane, the director of Wilmington VA Medical Center and its five outpatient clinics. “We’ve invested more in employee training, and we’ve increased our presence at town halls, outreach events, and community meetings.”
The VA MISSION Act of 2018:
- Strengthens VA’s ability to recruit and retain clinicians.
- Statutorily authorizes “Anywhere to Anywhere” telehealth provision across state lines.
- Empowers Veterans with increased access to community care.
- Establishes a new, urgent-care benefit that eligible Veterans can access in the community.
“I see this as a tremendous opportunity for us. I see it as a chance – particularly here in Delaware and South Jersey – to grow and enroll more of our Veterans in VA health care,” Kane said. “We know a transformation of this size – and on such a rapid timeline – won’t be without risk. We’re aiming for excellence and we continue to work on improving our processes while increasing our services, our partnerships, and our communications so Vets can get the care they need at the right time, the right place, and with the right provider.”
Annually, Wilmington VA Medical Center and its community-based outpatient clinics serve approximately 31,000 Veterans in Delaware and southern New Jersey.