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The MISSION Act is Here

The Independence Fund Supports VA’s Final Regs Expanding Healthcare Choices

WASHINGTON, DC (June 6, 2019) – The Independence Fund is in full support of the final rules for both Community Care/Access Standards and Urgent Care regulations, published by The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) yesterday. Both regulations were required by The MISSION Act, signed into law one year ago with overwhelming bipartisan support, and go into effect on June 6. The Independence Fund’s top legislative priority for 2018 was a full revamp of VA’s “Choice Program,” allowing Veterans to seek outside care if they couldn’t get VA health quickly. The organization is thrilled to see this priority come to fruition with today’s implementation.

“During his presidential campaign, the President promised Veterans choice in their healthcare provider and the ability to seek private medical care paid for by the government,” says Bob Carey, Chief Advocacy Officer of The Independence Fund. “These final regulations implement the promise of real VA healthcare choices, and delivers on that promise to our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured Veterans.”

With the VA’s Community Care/Access Standards regulations, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says it is important “to ensure that Veterans are spending their time getting care instead of driving to it.” VA patients who have to drive more than 30 minutes or wait more than 20 days for a primary care or mental health appointment, or drive 60 minutes or wait more than 28 days for specialty appointments, will get immediate access to community care. Veterans can still choose to stay with VA care, but now will have the option to seek quicker care in the community.

A key element The Independence Fund, and almost 40,000 of its supporters, demanded in their comments to VA and Congress was the “best medical interest” standard in the new Community Care regulation, where if the clinician and veteran believe non-VA community care would be in their best interest, they can use it, regardless of other eligibility criteria.  And because of those efforts, the VA listened and clarified in the regulation that such determinations are purely clinical decisions, not subject to veto by VA bureaucrats who never see the Veterans

In regards to new urgent care regulations, Veterans may access urgent care, or walk-in care, at participating community providers. For catastrophically disabled veterans, access to same day urgent care in their neighborhood eliminates the fear and worry of waiting days for VA facility appointments.

MISSION Act takes a Veteran’s health care needs out of the hands of others and places it in the hands of the Veteran, “precisely where it should be,” per Secretary Wilkie. The Independence Fund agrees whole-heartedly and supports giving Veterans choice in their medical care.

The Independence Fund is a 501c3, national Veterans Service Organization, serving the unmet needs of catastrophically wounded Veterans, Caregivers, and their families. Since 2007, they have delivered more than $60 million in direct support to wounded Veterans, their Caregivers, and families. Learn more at www.IndependenceFund.org.

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