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senate Bill S. 2372

VA MISSION Act: Establishing the VA Community Care Program & Modernizing VA Infrastructure

Argument in favor

This bipartisan bill would streamline the VA’s duplicative community care programs into one, ensuring veterans are able to access non-VA care in their communities when VA care would be deficient in quality or timeliness.

SneakyPete's Opinion
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05/14/2018
Sadly, once again, my Representative STEVE COHEN (D) , TENNESSEE 9th Congressional District voted NAY on this bill: VA MISSION ACT. DEMOCRATIC TO THE CORE. 🤬🤬🤬
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Matthew's Opinion
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05/16/2018
Take care of those we asked to fight pointless wars.
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Tooluser1's Opinion
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05/16/2018
The VA is *always* deficient in quality and timeliness. That is the definition of government healthcare.
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Argument opposed

Congress shouldn’t be trying to make subsidized care at non-VA facilities more accessible for veterans, even if it’s because comparable VA care would be deficient in quality or timeliness. It should only focus on making the VA better.

IllWill's Opinion
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05/16/2018
Some parts of this bill appear to be designed to introduce creeping privatization of the VA. The real problem at the VA is the lack of funding! Maybe if our representatives stopped allocating so much money for war, they could allocate more money for taking care of the veterans who fought in those wars.
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Olivier's Opinion
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05/16/2018
We should not be privitizing heathcare. The VA needs more funding in general.
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KansasTamale's Opinion
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05/16/2018
The government is responsible for the veterans because the government sent them to war. Privatization of the care for our veterans is reprehensible. The government must live up to its responsibly. If they don’t want to live up to their responsibility then STOP CREATING WARS.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedJune 6th, 2018
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed May 16th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 347 Yea / 70 Nay
      house Committees
      National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
      Committee on Natural Resources
      Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The senate Passed March 1st, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedFebruary 5th, 2018

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What is Senate Bill S. 2372?

This bill — known as the VA MISSION Act — would establish the Veterans Community Care Program to improve veterans’ access to care through non-VA, community providers when comparable Dept. of Veterans Affairs would be deficient in quality, timeliness, or cause a hardship to the veteran. It would also start a multi-year process for reviewing VA facilities and infrastructure to modernize and realign the VA’s services with the needs of veterans.

Caring for Veterans

This section of the bill would require the VA to establish the Veterans Community Care Program to provide care in the community to veterans who are enrolled in the VA healthcare or otherwise entitled to VA care. The VA would be required to coordinate veterans’ care and ensure the scheduling of medical appointments in a timely manner, ensure the continuity of care and services, coordinate coverage for veterans using care outside their region of residence, and ensure veterans don’t experience a lapse in healthcare services.

Access to community care would be required if the VA doesn’t offer the care or services the veteran needs or operate a full-service medical facility in the state, or if the veteran was eligible for care under the Veterans Choice Program’s 40-mile rule, or if a veteran and their referring clinician determine community care would be in the veteran’s best interest based on:

  • The distance between the veteran and the facility providing the care they need and any geographical or environmental factors impeding access;

  • The nature of the care and services required and whether there’s a compelling reason the veteran should receive care or services from a non-VA medical facility.;

  • The frequency that care or services need to be furnished and timeliness of appointments;

  • Any other considerations considered appropriate by the VA.

The VA would also be authorized to furnish care to veterans in the community when quality or timeliness measures are deficient. Deficient imeliness would be gauged by a comparison with the same service line at different VA facilities. Deficient quality would be measured based on a comparison with two or more distinct and appropriate quality measures at non-VA medical service lines.

The bill would establish a prompt payment process for providers that’d require VA to pay for, or deny payment for, services within 30 calendar days of receiving a clean electronic claim or 45 days of receiving a clean paper claim. In the event of a denial VA would have to explain the denial to the provider and review any additional information returned by the provider.

Additionally, this section would:

  • Require that a veteran not pay more for utilizing non-VA care than the veteran would pay for comparable care or services at VA.

  • Give enrolled veterans access to walk-in care if they’ve used VA healthcare services in the previous 24 months from community providers.

  • Sunset the Veterans Choice program after one year, as the Community Care Program would be its successor.

VA Asset & Infrastructure Review

This section would establish a nine member Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission, which the president would need to nominate commissioners for by May 31, 2021. The AIR Commission would meet during calendar years 2022 and 2023 and terminate on December 31, 2023 and all proceedings would be open to the public.

Over that period, the AIR Commission would make recommendations to Congress about several aspects of the VA including:

  • The proposed criteria to be used in making decisions about modernization or realignment of VHA facilities, including the veterans preference (Due February 1, 2021);

  • The final criteria in making decisions about modernization or realignment of VHA facilities (Due May 31, 2021);

  • Publish a report making recommendations about modernizing or realigning VHA facilities to improve care, whether existing federal property could be repurposed or reconfigured to meet VHA’s needs, or whether infrastructure or facilities should be acquired and how those acquisitions align with VA’s mission (Due January 31, 2022);

  • Provide the president with a report and analysis of the Commission’s and VA’s recommendations. The Commission could make changes to the VA’s recommendations if the VA deviates from its criteria, and would be required to explain all changes (Due January 31, 2023).

The president would be required to submit a letter approving or disapproving of the Commission’s report by February 15, 2023. If the president disapproves, the commission would have until March 15, 2023 to respond to the president’s revised recommendations. The president would then have to certify their approval to Congress by March 30, 2023 or the modernization & realignment process would terminate.

Miscellaneous

  • To improve recruitment of healthcare professionals, VA would be authorized to provide scholarships to medical students in exchange for service to VA; the VA Education Debt Reduction Program maximum would raised from $120,000 to $200,000 over five years and from $24,000 to $40,000 annually; and establish other similar programs.

  • The VA would required to develop criteria for designating certain VA medical facilities as underserved facilities and create a pilot program to send medical deployment teams to underserved facilities.

  • VA would be required to submit an annual report to Congress on performance awards and bonuses to high-level VA employees.

Impact

Veterans; healthcare providers; the VA; the AIR Commission; Congress; and the president.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2372

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) introduced this bill to streamline the VA’s duplicative community care programs and create a non-partisan process for reviewing & modernizing VA assets to ensure veterans can access the care they’ve earned:

“Today, I am introducing legislation that will ensure veterans have timely access to the care they have earned. These three important policies represent the pillars of a bipartisan, bicameral agreement reached last month, and I’d like to again thank Senators Isakson and Tester for their work and leadership on this package. This legislation must be passed, and if Congress fails to act veterans will pay for that failure. The VA MISSION Act is appropriately named, as it will put the department back on track to fulfilling President Lincoln’s promise to care for the men and women who have borne the battle.”

Several veterans service organizations (VSOs) have expressed support for this bill, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Concerned Veterans for America, and AMVETS.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: sshepard / iStock)

AKA

John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018

Official Title

An Act to establish a permanent community care program for veterans, to establish a commission for the purpose of making recommendations regarding the modernization or realignment of facilities of the Veterans Health Administration, to improve construction of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to the home loan program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

    Sadly, once again, my Representative STEVE COHEN (D) , TENNESSEE 9th Congressional District voted NAY on this bill: VA MISSION ACT. DEMOCRATIC TO THE CORE. 🤬🤬🤬
    Like (35)
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    Some parts of this bill appear to be designed to introduce creeping privatization of the VA. The real problem at the VA is the lack of funding! Maybe if our representatives stopped allocating so much money for war, they could allocate more money for taking care of the veterans who fought in those wars.
    Like (151)
    Follow
    Share
    We should not be privitizing heathcare. The VA needs more funding in general.
    Like (72)
    Follow
    Share
    The government is responsible for the veterans because the government sent them to war. Privatization of the care for our veterans is reprehensible. The government must live up to its responsibly. If they don’t want to live up to their responsibility then STOP CREATING WARS.
    Like (63)
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    Share
    This is an attempt to privatise the VA . At presant, I have acsess to any otside doctors. Right now I am using two doctors not connected with VA., but athorized by Lowell Federal Health Care formally known as The North Chicago VA Hospital.
    Like (28)
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    As a veteran, the VA already has this in place, it’s known as the choice card, if the VA is not able to meet the needs, they will provide an outside care provider.
    Like (24)
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    Take care of those we asked to fight pointless wars.
    Like (17)
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    We need legislation to fix the issues within the VA not to outsou
    Like (15)
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    All veterans eligible for VA Healthcare can use the CHOICE Program!!! I do because my local VA does not offer care for the type of cancer I have. I receive my cancer care at the local Naval Hospital. My care there is excellent! The Choice Program also allows vets not near VA facilities to see private Drs. The current move is just one more step in dismantling VA Healthcare and an attempt to privatize. Privatization would increase cost to unsustainable levels. I’m a veteran, married to a combat vet. We both use this service and receive excellent care! It is not free unless you are indigent or are being treated for a service-connected disability, but it is affordable. My husband especially is better served by VA care. Congress just needs to sufficiently fund and staff the VA!
    Like (15)
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    Do not privatize the VA. I'm an army vet and I'd be beyond pissed if you did this!
    Like (11)
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    The VA is *always* deficient in quality and timeliness. That is the definition of government healthcare.
    Like (11)
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    I’m torn on the VA. I use their services. I don’t know that it is not an attempt at dismantling the VA as I know it and pushing myself and other veterans out into the community. Would not be too bad for me because I live far from where I go for treatment in Seattle. I also am covered nicely by other health insurances. But if I know this president, and I do, since he has a big mouth, he does want the VA made private. He’s a sneaky one, so I’ll say no on this issue, for now. I’ll relax when we get a new president in 2020. Our veterans (especially war veterans like the very respectable and honorable John Mc Cain) deserve ONLY THE BEST. The military branches have protected us, bled for us and died for us, godspeed Mueller!🗽🌈
    Like (9)
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    While I think some of these ideas are good, as a vet I am a aware of privatization creep. Prior to very retiring from the war and a VA finding cut causing a veteran backlog, vets had a 97% approval rating of the VA overall, and the GOP is doing everything to destroy that image to allow middle men to make boatloads off of tax payer funds meant to go to vets
    Like (6)
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    NO VA privatization!
    Like (6)
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    About Time and Thank you
    Like (5)
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    No privatization of the VA
    Like (5)
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    Our veterans deserve better care!!
    Like (4)
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    Isn’t this the purpose of the VA?
    Like (4)
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    Long overdue.
    Like (4)
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    Our veterans NEED TO BE SUPPORTED...THEY ALREADY DID IT FOR US!
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