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The VA Mission Act is Signed Into Law

By June 14, 2018November 24th, 2020No Comments
NAMI Montana is deeply grateful for Senator Jon Tester and Republican Senator Johnny Isakson who wrote Caring for Our Veterans Act with input from veterans, advocates (including NAMI Montana), and the VA. They negotiated with leaders of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to include it in the VA MISSION Act.

The VA MISSION Act overwhelmingly passed the Senate by a vote of 92-5 and the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 347-70. It was signed into law by President Donald Trump.

One of the things that NAMI Montana is especially excited about in this bill is that it sets the for community care as the Medicare rate, but it authorizes the VA to pay higher rates in rural areas. This overcomes the real world challenge that happens often in the medical system of having a patient population that needs care, but having a payment reimbursement rate that is so low that the medical providers cannot pay to see them. The VA MISSION Act is a real step forward in the VA’s ability to provide healthcare to veterans whose circumstances prevent them from receiving care at VA facilities.”

Here are some of the specifics of the bill:

Reforms Community Health Care

  • Scraps the beleaguered Choice Program.
  • Establishes one community care program that allows veterans and their doctors to choose where to get health care.
  • Streamlines the process for veterans to access community providers.
  • Creates new standards for faster reimbursements to private providers who care for veterans.
  • Requires stronger accountability and transparency to ensure government contractors that administer the VA’s community care are meeting the terms of their contractual requirements.
  • Strengthens safety measures and guidelines for private providers to prescribe opioids to veterans.

Strengthens VA Health Care

  • Provides greater recruitment, retention and relocation incentives so that the VA can attract and maintain high-quality providers.
  • Increases the amount the VA will reimburse medical professionals for education debt reduction.
  • Removes barriers for veterans to access telehealth care, including mental health, closer to home.
  • Incentivizes medical residents and providers to work at rural, tribal and underserved VA facilities.
  • Develops criteria to identify underserved medical facilities and incentivize medical professionals to complete their residencies in rural areas.
  • Establishes mobile deployment teams to provide additional care at the highest-need VA facilities.
  • Recruits medical scribes to assist physicians so that doctors can focus on serving veterans, and not filling out paperwork.

Expands Caregiver Benefits

  • Expands eligibility for VA caregiver support services to veterans of all eras, and modernizes and strengthens support services.

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