According to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there are nearly 20.4 million U.S. veterans living in the country. Of those 20.4 million veterans, 9 million of them will have more ways to access healthcare.
Last year, the Mission Act was passed into law on June 6, a law that supports the creation of a health care system that aims to ensure easy and reliable access to care for veterans when they need it.
Veterans can now use doctors outside of the VA under less strict terms. Previously, veterans had to wait up to 30 days if they could not see a VA doctor, but now The Mission Act changes that to 20 days. The hope is that the number can be shortened even more next year.
The Mission Act, an acronym for maintaining internal systems and strengthening integrated outside networks, is seen as a breath of fresh air by some veterans and private doctors. Some had complained previous laws were inefficient and caused delays in payments.
The previous Choice program, which is being replaced by the Mission Act, let veterans look for health care from select private providers if care wasn’t available at a VA medical provider. However, there were problems with driving distance, certain services and timeliness. The Choice program also suffered issues with funding, and the VA would typically go to Congress for more funding.
“The changes not only improve our ability to provide the health care veterans need, but also when and where they need it,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a statement regarding the Mission Act. “It will also put veterans at the center of their care and offer options, including expanded telehealth and urgent care, so they can find the balance in the system that is right for them.”
The Mission Act reserves urgent care coverage for veterans who need more medical attention than others. The VA hopes that veterans will still have a choice of providers. It also hopes the new program will improve reliance on private health care sector.
While the Mission Act has been greeted with some support, others expressed concerns that it would privatize VA health care. Officials have ensured that veterans are happy with health care through the department.
The new act went into full effect on June 6. The Choice program officially came to an end on June 5. Officials believe the Mission Act will align with the needs of veterans in the country.
If you have questions about the Mission Act, visit www.missionact.va.org, or you can address concerns to 1-844-698-2311.