Imagine if Republicans and Democrats worked
together to pass reforms that improve the lives of millions of people.
And imagine if those reforms put America’s
Veterans at the center of their healthcare decisions, leading to better
customer service for our Nation’s heroes.
This isn’t hypothetical. It happened last year
when Congress passed the MISSION Act.
Through state-of-the-art facilities,
cutting-edge technology, and increased clinician recruiting and retention
incentives, VA continues to enhance its coordinated care system through
high-quality VA health care and community care provider networks.
The legislation sailed through Congress with
overwhelming bipartisan support and the strong backing of Veterans’ service
President Donald J. Trump’s signature put us on
a path to implementing these reforms. On June 6, the MISSION Act will enable VA
to consolidate the Department’s community care efforts into a single,
simple-to-use program that will empower Veterans with the ability to choose the
healthcare providers they trust.
So what can Veterans expect on June 6?
Less red tape, more satisfaction and
predictability for patients, more efficiency for our clinicians, and better
value for taxpayers.
Veterans will be eligible to get community care
for a variety of reasons, including when VA can’t provide the treatment they
need or when care outside our system is in the best medical interest of the
We listened to Veterans and heard they preferred
standards based on drive times rather than driving mileage because those
standards better reflect Veteran experiences, especially in large urban areas
with lots of traffic.
To ensure our Veterans are spending their time
getting care instead of driving to it, patients facing an average drive time of
30-minutes or more for VA primary or mental healthcare, or non-institutional
extended care services, will have the option of choosing a community provider
closer to home. For specialty care, the drive-time standard will be an average
of 60 minutes.
And to get Veterans the care they need when they
need it, VA patients facing a 20-day or more wait time for primary or mental
healthcare, or non-institutional extended care services, will have the option
of choosing a community provider who can deliver that care faster. For
specialty care, the wait-time standard will be 28 days.
For additional convenience and timely treatment,
eligible Veterans will also have access to urgent, walk-in care that gives them
the choice to receive certain services at participating community clinics in
their communities. (To access this new benefit, Veterans will select a provider
in VA’s community care network and may be charged a copayment.)
Veterans will be encouraged to ask VA about
these new options, and well-trained staff will be available to help them
quickly understand their choices.
These exciting and important changes speak to my
top priority – delivering the best medical customer service and offering
Veterans more healthcare choices.
While we still have more work to do, the VA is
We are seeing more patients than ever before,
more quickly than ever before and studies show VA now compares favorably to the
private sector for access and quality of care –
and in many cases exceeds it.
And Veterans have noticed.
Patients’ trust in VA care has skyrocketed to
87.7 percent, and in the last fiscal year VA completed more than 58 million
internal appointments – a record high and 623,000 more than the year before.
VA employees are noticing improvements as well.
VA ranked sixth out of 17 Federal
Government agencies in the Partnership for Public Service’s most recent “Best
Places to Work” survey, up from 17th the year prior.
To maintain the trust of our Veterans, we must
continue to deliver. And we will constantly innovate, upgrade, and pursue ways
to better serve our Nation’s heroes.
The MISSION Act is a vital part of this effort,
giving VA the ability to implement the best practices we’ve learned in our
nearly 75 years of experience offering community care.
The core of the doctor-patient relationship is
trust. President Trump promised Veterans that this core value would shape the
With the MISSION Act, the future of the VA healthcare
system will lie in the hands of Veterans – precisely where it should be.
That’s exactly what President Trump promised,
it’s exactly what Congress voted for, and it’s exactly what VA will deliver to
We will provide more information and progress
updates over the next several weeks.
For more information on the Mission Act, and
what this will do for all Veterans, please go to www.MISSIONAct.va.govYour support and health are
our mission. Thank you for choosing VA.