Do you remember the VA MISSION Act- the massive, most comprehensive health care reform bill passed out of Congress in over 25 years and signed into law by President Donald Trump on June 6?
VA has quietly begun working on implementing these major changes but recognizes it can't do so without veterans' help.
VA wants to know what questions veterans have about the VA MISSION Act as VA moves forward in rolling out these huge health system changes.
While MOAA and other veteran service organizations (VSO) have started working with VA to implement the legislation, veterans are central to making the transformation smooth and in helping the department meet the very tight deadline mandated by Congress.
Passage of the VA MISSION Act signaled Congress' readiness to implement major changes in VA's health care system - seen by some congressional leaders as long overdue reform.
One of the most significant changes veterans will see in the next few months is the elimination of the Veterans Choice Program, established in 2014, to provide temporary relief and help VA rebuild internal capacity to reduce long wait times for veterans seeking health care. A new, streamlined community care program will replace Choice and consolidate multiple community care programs currently managed by VA into a single program.
A few other major changes veterans can expect to see are:
- the expansion of VA's comprehensive caregiver support program, opening up the program to eligible pre-9/11 veterans;
- veterans and their doctors will be able to decide the best option on where the veteran should get their care, whether inside VA or in the community;
- more telehealth programs; and,
- walk-in health care services with local community providers.
What would normally take three to five years to implement such massive system changes, Congress gave VA one year from the enactment of the MISSION Act to replace the Choice Program and two years to implement the caregiver program expansion.
Last week, VA provided MOAA and other VSOs a little peek under the tent as to the rough timelines the department is working under to combine and implement the new community care program and walk-in care services over the next year. Here's generally what we know:
- Phase 1, June - October 2018. Build the operating structure, access and eligibility criteria, new veteran care contract agreements, and new competency standards for community providers; and, draft regulations.
- Phase 2, November 2018 - February 2019. Complete and test the operating structure and elements initiated in Phase 1; continue rollout of the new community care provider network; begin educating and training VA staff; and, finalized regulations.
- Phase 3, March - June 2019. Transition and begin operation of the new walk-in care and community care program; continue educating VA staff; continue rollout of new community care provider network; begin using new competency standards for community providers; publish regulations; and, end the Choice Program.
So here's what MOAA needs from you.
We need you to send us your questions about the VA MISSION Act that you want VA to answer and communicate to veterans now and throughout the implementation of the system reforms.
To help get you started, here are a couple questions MOAA has already provided to VA we think veterans will want to know:
- How can veterans expect VA to communicate with them as progress is made in implementing the MISSION Act and how can veterans provide feedback throughout the process?
- What does walk-in care mean and will I be charged for getting this care outside of my VA medical center?
Now, what questions are on your mind?
Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share your questions with VA as well any communication and marketing materials as they become available.