Health Care

Mission Act: New law allows veterans to see private doctors

Mission Act: New law allows veterans to see private doctors”

The new and improved Community Care Program launched by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is now up and running.

Previously, veterans facing a wait of 30 days or more for an appointment at their closest VA health care center could seek private care. Thanks to the new VCCP, veterans will now have the option of getting care when and where they need it, which is especially important in our large district where a number of veterans live outside of a 30-minute drive from a VA medical facility.

The Veterans Affairs Department finalized a rule spelling out which veterans are eligible for the new, expanded Community Care program mandated by Congress previous year.

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.

Butler VA Director John Lasell says help is available to determine if vets are eligible to participate in the program.

Most veterans believe the VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides first-rate care.

In 2014, the roll-out of VA Choice caused a sharp spike in workload at the Hampton VA Medical Center, one of the fastest growing veterans hospitals in the country. "Our staff is steadfast in providing health care that meets the needs of our veterans at the right time and place". Despite increasing eligibility for community care, the VA states they do not expect the program to deplete their budget. "What we're actually doing is streamlining the are for community care".

Veterans now have expanded access to medical care outside of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.

TriWest will continue as interim administrator for the Choice program while the new contractors, including Optum Public Sector Solutions, ramp up their networks and processes over the coming year.

Carlos Fuentes, director of legislative services for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, anxious that the VA is setting veterans up for disappointment in promising short waits for appointments with private providers.

Note: Drive times are calculated using geomapping software.

In the final rule, the VA acknowledged receiving comments that the drive-time and wait-time access standards were not realistic. "We've had 95-year-old veterans do this with us".

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