Hoeven Meets with VA Secretary Nominee, Outlines Need for Smooth Implementation of VA MISSION Act

Senator Continues Working to Ensure Veterans Have Access to Health and Long-Term Care Closer to Home

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week met with Robert Wilkie, the president’s nominee to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs and outlined the importance of implementing the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act in a timely way to improve care for veterans and ensure they have access to local health and long-term care.

Hoeven highlighted initiatives he worked to include in the VA MISSION Act, including:

  • Key provisions from his Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act to increase access to long-term care (LTC) options for veterans in their home communities and near their loved ones.
  • Expanded 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.
  • Removal of 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.

“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with Mr. Wilkie and to impress upon him the importance of providing veterans with access to health and long-term care services closer to their homes, and how implementing the VA MISSION Act in a timely and effective manner will help to do just that,” said Hoeven. “We’re working with stakeholders and veterans in North Dakota, as well as the administration, so that this legislation is implemented in a way that ensures the health care industry will be able to provide both long term care services and medical services to our veterans closer to home.” 

Hoeven is working with the Fargo VA Medical Center, Veteran Service Organizations, medical and long-term care providers, as well as administration officials to ensure the legislation is properly implemented and achieves the intent of Congress. Following passage of the legislation, Hoeven has spoken with administration officials, including U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Alex Acosta, so that the agencies are working together with representatives from the health care industry and veterans service organizations to ensure that the legislation provides veterans with access to long-term care.

That includes the provisions Hoeven secured in the VA MISSION Act that 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. Hoeven also worked 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.


In addition to the provisions outlined above, the VA MISSION Act will help improve veterans’ 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.