Hoeven Holds Roundtable on VA MISSION Act, Legislation to Improve Veterans' Access to Local Medical & Long-Term Care Providers
Senator Worked to Ensure Bill Allows LTC Provider Agreements, Removes 30-Day, 40-Mile Rule & Expands Caregiver Benefits to All Veterans
FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today toured the Eventide senior living campus in Fargo, where he hosted a roundtable to outline the recently-passed VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act. Hoeven brought together local veterans, Veteran Service Officers, officials from the Fargo Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, including Director Lavonne Liversage and Chief of Staff Dr. Brenton Weintraub, and representatives from the long-term care (LTC) industry to review how the legislation streamlines the VA’s community care programs into a new Veteran Community Care Program, improving upon the Veterans Choice Program. Hoeven worked to ensure the legislation included the following priorities to provide veterans with quality health care, closer to home:
- Key provisions from his Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act to increase access to LTC options for veterans in their home communities and near their loved ones.
- Expands caregiver benefits for veterans of all eras. Under current law, these benefits are only available to caregivers of post-9/11 veterans. This provision will help support all veterans and the family and friends that care for them.
- Removes the arbitrary 30-day/40-mile rule, which acted as a barrier to veterans receiving care in their home communities and often required veterans to travel long distances to receive health care. Last Congress, Hoeven helped introduce and the Senate passed the Access to Community Care for Veterans Act, legislation to fix the 40-mile issue.
“The VA MISSION Act is part of our work to provide veterans with the convenient, quality health care that they have earned,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation builds on the Veterans Choice Program to ensure veterans can receive health care from local providers when the services they need aren’t available through VA facilities. This includes expanding access to local long-term care facilities by providing regulatory relief from burdensome federal contracting requirements. We’ve also made all veterans eligible for caregiver benefits, giving the family and friends who care for our veterans the support they deserve. All of this means that veterans will be better able to receive the health care they need without travelling long distances or moving far away from their homes and loved ones.”
Currently, only about 20 percent of North Dakota’s nursing homes contract with the VA due to the agency’s difficult regulations and reporting requirements. The provisions Hoeven secured will allow the VA to enter into provider agreements with qualified health care and long-term care facilities, provide relief from expensive federal contracting requirements and enable more LTC providers to accept veteran patients.
THE VA MISSION ACT
In addition to the provisions outlined above, the VA MISSION Act will help improve veteran access to community care by:
- Providing $5.2 billion for the Veterans Choice Fund
- Creating standards for timely payment to community care providers.
- Authorizing access to walk-in community clinics for enrolled veterans who have used VA health care services in the last two years.
- Strengthening the process for ensuring responsible prescribing of opioids to veterans for VA and partnering health care providers.
- Ensuring providers removed or suspended from VA practice do not treat veterans in the community.
- Improving the recruitment of VA health care professionals.
- Requiring the VA to schedule medical appointments in a timely manner.
Today’s legislation follows Hoeven’s work to secure and implement the Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo VA Health Center in 2016. The initiative allows veterans seeking community care to coordinate all of their health care through the Fargo VA rather than Health Net. The initiative also placed a Health Net representative at the Fargo VA to improve provider reimbursements and reduce denial of veterans’ claims. Hoeven’s staff has worked directly with the Fargo VA and providers since the implementation of the Veterans Choice Program to resolve outstanding payments by Health Net.
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