The MISSION Act seeks to provide more health care options for veterans
Next month, the Veterans Administration will roll out a program that gives veterans greater access to health care. Congress passed the MISSION Act,a law that allows veterans to receive health care at either a VA facility or another general provider within the community, last year.
The law’s creation and implementation are largely a result of the push for the Trump Administration’s increased focus on the relationship between the provider and the patient. This includes a partnership between the VA and private sector care.
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The MISSION Act attempts to allow veterans to have autonomy over their health care, and to provide them with more provider options.
“We are undergoing basic reforms to make VA a modern 21st century healthcare administration…we are opening the aperture for choice so that our veterans remain at the center of their own healthcare,” Secretary of the Veteran Administration Robert Wilkie said in an interview with Fox News.
On June 6, the MISSION Act will become official, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will begin consolidating the health care programs currently in place into one central program. Veterans across the country will ultimately have the ability to access a provider of their choosing, regardless of whether that provider is part of the Veterans Health Administration.
The new law also allows veterans to receive more immediate care by including urgent care facilities in the approved care facilities within the community.
Recent trends in data from the Veterans Administration shows that veterans are, at times, unable to receive timely access to care or experience appointment wait times that are too long. The average wait time for a health care appointment at the VA is 21 days, and often veterans have to drive long distances to get care at a VA facility.
There are also times when specialized care is necessary, and utilizing a provider outside the VHA system is in the best interest of the patient. The MISSION Act streamlines this process for veterans, according the to VA.
These facts, in conjunction with the focus of increased patient care from the Trump Administration, are the basis for the MISSION Act.
Data from the Veteran Administration Patient Access page shows that a renewed focus on improving Veteran Administration care, and the expansion of access has resulted in a spike in overall improvements ratings. Appointment totals have also increased. In 2018, the VA completed an additional 623,000 appointments compared to 2017, and the departments satisfaction rating increased to 87.7 percent.
Despite the fact that appointments have increased, some veteran organizations have reservations about the implementation of the MISSION Act. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization, for example, express concern over their feelings that Congress ignored their testimony during public hearing. More than 80 percent of VFW members utilize the VA for health care.