01.30.19

Daines Applauds new VA Access Standards for Community Care

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today applauded the announcement from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of new access standards for community care for veterans. The new standards were required under the VA Mission Act which Senator Daines cosponsored and President Trump signed into law into 2018. 

“The VA Choice Program was riddled with mismanagement and bureaucracy. It simply did not work for Montana’s Veteran population, which is why I cosponsored the VA Mission Act,” Daines said. “I’m hopeful that, with these new access standards, veterans will have more certainty about what care they get closer to home and avoid administrative hassles. This should also make it simpler for providers to be paid more promptly for their services.”

Under the MISSION Act, signed by President Trump in June 2018, there are six different eligibility criteria for community care including access standards, availability of services, proximity to a VA medical facility, best medical interest, and quality of care.  The new access standards will go into effect in June, and will be based on average driving times and appointment wait times. For primary care and mental health services, VA is proposing a 30 minute average driving time standard. For specialty care, the proposal is 60 minutes. The proposed wait time standards are 20 days for primary care appointments and mental health services and 28 days for specialty care appointments.  

For more information about the MISSION Act, click HERE.

Background:

On May 23, 2018, Daines voted to pass the VA MISSION Act and send it to the President’s desk.

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, and will assume responsibility for TRICARE in Montana in 2018.

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.

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.

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