A new federal program that will improve veterans’ access to health care was put into effect on Thursday.
The bill was signed into law by President Trump one year ago. It’s called the MISSION Act Veterans Community Care Program, and, through it, veterans can expect numerous improvements in health care. MISSION is an acronym for maintaining internal systems and strengthening integrated outside networks.
“What this involves is the veterans being able to receive care in the community at the VA’s expense and also being able to have access to other services like urgent care and emergent care,” said Dr. Maureen McCarthy, who is the Phoenix VA chief of staff.
There’s a new urgent care benefit that will give veterans the ability to visit any urgent care or walk-in provider in the VA network without prior authorization.
“The Choice Act has ended but the choice is not going away. With the MISSION Act, it actually consolidates a lot of the systems into a more cohesive one system so we can help the veterans better,” said Dr. Isabel Kozak, the Phoenix VA assistant chief of staff.
Veterans who would have to drive more than 30 minutes to visit their primary care doctor or 60 minutes for a specialty care doctor will have the ability to see a private doctor; the VA will pay for the appointment.
The VA is also trying to expand health care options through the “telehealth” platform. “It’s really seamless and efficient, just like a Skype or Facetime platform,” McCarthy said. “We’ve had 95-year-old veterans do this with us.”
Veterans can inquire about the program with their VA health care provider or other VA staff.