Legislation Reforming Care For Veterans Passes Congress

On May 24, Congress passed a largely bipartisan bill aiming to overhaul medical care options for veterans. Known as the VA Mission Act, the $52 billion Veterans Affairs (VA) reform legislation cleared the House by a 347-70 margin, followed by a 92-5 vote in the Senate. President Trump is expected to sign the measure by June 6.

A looming funding deadline for the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) expedited the passage after months of stalled efforts to advance the legislation. VCP, a community health program that gives veteran patients access to civilian doctors to prevent medical appointment delays, was scheduled to run out of money on May 31.

The VA Mission Act includes provisions that would:

  • Authorize and appropriate $5.2 billion in funding for the VA to continue the VCP for one year. Once VCP is phased out, a new "Veterans Community Care Program" will offer a new series of community care offerings, consolidated from seven separate current VA programs.
  • Change the way the VA reimburses veterans for private health care appointments. VA doctors will decide when it's clinically appropriate for a veteran to see a private doctor due to a limited number of VA facilities in close proximity or limited available appointments. This bill requires that a veteran not pay more for utilizing non-VA care than the veteran would pay for comparable VA care or services, and ensures timely payment to private care providers.
  • Establish a nine-member commission to evaluate and reform the VA’s existing facilities to rehabilitate the department's infrastructure.
  • Expand a stipend program for post-9/11 veteran family caregivers to older generations of veterans who experienced severe injuries while in service.

Keywords: ACC Advocacy, Humans, Veterans, Caregivers, Public Health, Delivery of Health Care, Physicians, Choice Behavior

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