Veterans deserve access to quality health care in a timely manner. In 2021, Congress should ensure the bipartisan VA MISSION Act is implemented as designed and eligible veterans can access community care. While many significant deadlines in the law have passed; sections of the law remain in the early stages of implementation and require ongoing oversight by policymakers. To continue to modernize the VA health care system, Congress should support providing maximum health care choice for our nation’s veterans and examine eligibility for VA health services.
Preserve VA MISSION Act Progress
- Ensure Community Care Access. During COVID-19, VA wait times are increasing rapidly. According to the OIG, the VA cancelled millions of appointments after March 15, 2020 and failed to follow up with affected veterans. The VA should ensure veterans have access to community providers as required by law. Read CVA’s recommendations.
- Oversee Community Care Networks. Congress should provide oversight over the Community Care Network (CCN) contracts to ensure adequate network capacity to meet the access standards as required by the VA MISSION Act. In particular, Congress should monitor community care authorization and appointment wait times as well as paying community providers in a timely manner.
Protect Access Standards. The current access standards for the Veterans Community Care Program should remain unchanged, and if anything, further expanded to give more veterans choice. They closely match access standards for DoD healthcare, other networks and appropriately account for the differences between primary, specialty, and mental health care.
- Implement the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission. The VA MISSION Act included the creation of an independent commission charged with realigning VA’s infrastructure to meet the changing needs and demographics of the veteran population. The process of confirming commissioners, setting up the commission, and publishing necessary criteria will kick off in earnest in 2021. Read more in CVA’s explainer document.
Give Full Health Care Choice. Veterans deserve to have greater decision-making over their health care. CVA supports creative alternative models like the Veterans’ True Choice Act that utilizes a TRICARE-style care delivery model to give full health care choice to service-connected veterans.
Examine Health Care Eligibility. The Commission on Care recommendation #18 recommended the VA determine who and what services the VA is best positioned to provide for veterans. The Modernizing Veterans’ Healthcare Eligibility Act would accomplish this goal. The veteran population is changing rapidly and assembling more data and an expert panel to provide policy reform recommendations is needed.