President to Sign Daines’ Bill to Overhaul VA, Strengthen Care for Veterans

U.S. SENATE – In the hours leading up to President Donald Trump signing the VA MISSION Act into law, U.S. Senator Steve Daines today spoke on the Senate floor to highlight the positive impact that this legislation will have on veterans’ access to critical health care services.

This legislation, which Daines helped champion in the U.S. Senate, will overhaul the VA Choice Program and provide better health care for Montana’s veterans. Daines will join President Trump at the White House this afternoon for a bill signing ceremony for this essential reform.

VA Mission Act2

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Excerpt from Prepared Remarks:

“The problems plaguing the VA aren’t just occasional news stories – they are the daily reality for Montana veterans. Enough is enough. 

Our nation has a lot of work to do to fulfill the promises we’ve made to our veterans.

The MISSION Act is an important step forward, and I’m proud to have helped get this bill across the finish line and onto the President’s desk. 

I look forward to honoring our veterans’ service by standing with the President today as he signs this important bill into law.”

The bipartisan MISSION Act will follow through on the promises that were made to our Veterans: 

  • Rural veterans will get greater, easier, and quicker access to the care they need
  • Whether a veteran lives twenty, thirty, or forty miles from a VA clinic, they can go elsewhere if the VA does provide them with the services they need
  • It brings VA care into the 21st century by encouraging telemedicine and strengthens oversight of opioid prescriptions
  • Veterans will have more access to doctors because there will be measures holding companies like Health Net accountable for how they manage the new program
  • It provides scholarships to encourage medical and dental students to serve in the VA, and it creates a new loan repayment program for medical students who are training in specialties that are currently lacking in the VA

For more information about the MISSION Act, click HERE. 

Statements of Support:

“The Veterans Choice Program promised greater access to rural veterans across Montana, but failed to deliver. The Montana Legion appreciates Senator Daines’ work to fulfill that promise in areas where traditional VA care is unavailable, by advancing the VA MISSION Act through the Senate to the President’s desk.” – Montana American Legion

“As a former Marine combat veteran, I should be afforded free and timely health care by the VA.  I should not be constrained by pre-authorization or other qualifications approved by the VA. My experience has been one of frustration, disappointment and failure with the VA. The communications that the Veterans Choice uses needs to be changed and updated. The veterans that I have talked with have advised me that Veterans Choice has sent them out of town when in reality, a doctor or caregiver was right in their home town. At other times, the veterans would receive the call too late or not at all. Providers of the Choice program have also complained of not getting paid.” – Jim Heffernan, USMC Korean War Veteran, Helena


On May 23, 2018, Daines supported and the Senate passed, the VA MISSION Act, which will overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs community care programs and fixes many of the shortcomings in the VA Choice Program.

In May 2018, Daines took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to join him in supporting the VA Mission Act.

In January 2018, Daines met with Health Net Federal Services (HNFS) President and CEO, Billy Maynard, to address concerns regarding changes to the TRICARE network in Montana, and providers who no longer accept TRICARE due to poor experiences with HFNS in the Veterans Choice Program. 

On December 25, 2017, Daines led a letter to President and CEO of Health Net Federal Services, the current administrator for the Veterans Choice Program in Montana.

On November 10, 2017, Daines sponsored the Veteran State Home Grant Backlog Reduction Act to resolve a six-year delay in providing veterans’ care in Butte. 

In August 2017, Daines cohosted VA Secretary David Shulkin at the VAMC Fort Harrison to discuss critical provider shortages and obstacles to providing timely access to quality care to all eligible veterans in Montana. 

On May 3, 2017, Daines sponsored the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act.

On March 14, 2017, Daines sponsored the Veterans Choice Improvement Act to revamp the VA Choice Program and make reforms ensuring that non-VA health providers receive timely payments.

On January 31, 2017, Daines met with VA Secretary David Shulkin to discuss problems with VA Choice, including flawed implementation, late payments, scheduling errors and inaccessibility of providers.

On January 25, 2017, Daines highlighted the importance of improving the Veterans Choice Program for Montana’s veterans in a letter to President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin.

In January 2017, Daines met with the President and CEO of Health Net Federal Services, Billy Maynard, to discuss payment delays to Choice providers and VA reimbursement delays.

On January 9, 2017, in a letter to Billy Maynard, President and CEO of Health Net, Daines expressed concerns that he has heard from Montana veterans of their lack of confidence in Health Net’s ability to fulfill their obligations.

On December 12, 2016, Daines met with Dr. Kathy Berger, the director of the Montana VA Healthcare System, to discuss prioritizing Montana veterans and ensuring they receive the care they deserve. 

On May 11, 2016, Daines sponsored the Veterans First Act, comprehensive legislation to improve veterans’ access to health care, more quickly fire poor-performing VA staff, and improve the disability compensation process.

On March 7, 2016, Daines sponsored the Veterans Choice Improvement Act.

On January 21, 2015, Daines sponsored the Veterans Access to Community Care Act, to increase flexibility in interpreting the Choice Act’s 40-mile rule so veterans do not have to travel as far to receive the care they need.

On June 9, 2014, Daines sponsored the Veterans Access to Care Act.