This bill — the 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.
Why This Bill Is Against Our Values:
“There is little debate that the VA MISSION Act is better than the current Veterans Choice Program. In fact, ninety percent of the provisions included in this bill were negotiated on a bipartisan basis and through regular order. Unfortunately, the bill lacks a sustainable source of funding necessary to ensure that veterans’ access to quality healthcare as well as other vital VA programs continue to be sufficiently funded, administered, and protected in the long term.
“CBO has estimated that the VA MISSION Act will cost roughly $47 billion over five years. As it stands today, current budget caps will not allow for this level of spending to occur without requiring cuts to existing VA programs. This means programs investing in VA infrastructure, direct patient care, suicide prevention, medical research, job training, and much more could face cuts in funding in order to pay for care in the community under this new plan. Clearly, this paints a stark picture of a VA forced to cannibalize itself in order to pay for private care. It is unfortunate that an important and commonsense amendment I offered in committee earlier this month to fix this issue was not included in today’s legislation. Congress will inevitably have to find a solution before the end of FY2019.”(Source: Representative Tim Walz, Ranking Member, The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs)