VA MISSION Act – What You Need to Know
On June 6, 2018, President Trump signed a landmark VA reform bill known as the MISSION Act. Since then, the top issue facing the VA has been implementing the sweeping reforms mandated in the law that seeks to provide greater access to healthcare for veterans.
So what exactly is the MISSION Act and how will it affect veterans healthcare? Here’s what you need to know.
MISSION Act expands Veterans Choice Program
The fundamental element of the MISSION Act is the expansion and consolidation of community care programs that allow veterans to seek private healthcare when the VA cannot efficiently meet their needs. This includes programs like the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans who live more than 40 miles away from a VA facility to seek private healthcare. More than 1 million veterans currently rely on the program. The MISSION Act would expand the program to include more than 600,000 more veterans.
Currently, the AA offers multiple community care programs for veterans who need to seek private care. The MISSION Act consolidates these programs into one streamlined community care program to ensure consistency and efficiency. In total, 55 billion dollars will be spent over the next five years to expand community care programs under the MISSION Act.
Strengthens VA Workforce and Infrastructure
The MISSION Act also seeks to improve the workforce and infrastructure at the VA. For example, the law puts in place reforms that would better incentivize the best healthcare providers to practice at the VA. This includes more flexible bonus structures and debt reduction programs for VA healthcare providers. The law also provides resources for the VA to modernize its facilities.
The VA MISSION Act is arguably the single most consequential piece of legislation to affect veterans and the VA in decades. Although some argue that the law moves the VA toward privatization through the expansion of community care programs, the law also provides more resources to the VA to modernize its facilities and workforce. The MISSION Act strikes a good balance between providing funding for private healthcare and funding for updates and modernization of the VA itself.