U.S. CONGRESS – U.S. Senator Steve Daines, Congressmen Ryan Zinke (MT-01) and Matt Rosendale (MT-02) today introduced a bicameral bill to ensure Montana veterans’ access to mental health care in their local communities.
“The VA’s mission is to ‘care for those who have served in our nation’s military,’ that means ensuring our brave Montana veterans have access to the highest quality of care no matter where they live. I will always work to protect Montana veterans’ access to health care in communities across Montana,” Senator Daines said.
“The very program created to take care of our veterans should be the last obstacle standing in their way. Montana’s vets deserve the best, quickest, and most updated version of healthcare we can give them and expanding access to Community Care does exactly that. Whether it’s mental health, physical therapy or emergency medicine, the ability for one to see a doctor when they need it no doubt will save lives and give strength to veterans and their families,” Congressman Zinke said.
“Since coming to Congress and serving as the Chairman of the VA Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, I have prioritized ensuring veterans have the best healthcare possible – whether through the community care program or the VA. I’m proud to join Senator Daines and Congressman Zinke in introducing legislation to strengthen the VA MISSION Act to expand veterans’ access to community care,”Congressman Rosendale said.
The “Protecting Veteran Community Care Act” strengthens the existing community care program, limits the VA’s ability to restrict access to care in the community, and requires the VA to track relevant community care data and provide those statistics to Congress.
Specifically, this legislation would:
- Amend the MISSION Act to specifically include inpatient mental health standards.
- Adds clarity to veteran eligibility for care in the community.
- Requires the VA to track and present to Congress data on how veterans are requesting and using community care, along with what services community care funds are paying for.
- Requires passage of a Joint Resolution in both chambers of Congress to modify community care eligibility.
Read the one-pager HERE.
The 2018 VA MISSION Act was a landmark piece of legislation that overhauled the VA Choice Program to provide veterans with improved access to healthcare. Unfortunately, the VA has failed to live up to its obligation to provide timely care. Veterans are still facing unacceptably long waiting periods and frequently rescheduled appointments. The VA continues to fall short on the complete and proper implementation of the MISSION Act. This has resulted in the need for Congress to strengthen existing authorities to ensure that the VA isn’t restricting care in the community for veterans who need it most.