New VA Program Gives Veterans Access to Community Healthcare
On Thursday, June 6, one year after President Donald Trump signed legislation mandating dramatic changes to how veterans receive health care provided outside of the VA system, the Sheridan VA Health Care System and all U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities launched the new Community Care Program.
According to the VA, the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (MISSION Act) was intended to strengthen the nationwide VA Health Care System by empowering veterans to have more options in their health care decisions.
Under the new program, veterans can still choose to have the VA provide their care, but there are instances when a veteran will be eligible for community care. For example, a veteran living more than a 30-minute drive time from a VA facility, or who needs a service not available at any VA medical facility, would be eligible.
In individual circumstances, veterans, VA personnel, and community clinicians can work together to determine if current VA care is up to designated access and quality standards. If not, the veteran may qualify for the Community Care Program.
The Sheridan VA Health Care System has been focusing on preparing their employees for this transformation and others under the MISSION Act.
“The MISSION Act provides us with a new and improved way to fulfill our commitment to America’s veterans,” said Sheridan VA Health Care System Director Pam Crowell in a press release. “It does this by empowering our staff to provide health care that meets the needs of our veterans at the right time and place.”
The Sheridan VA Health Care System team serves approximately 12,500 veterans across three quarters of Wyoming every year. The system has eight outpatient clinics located in Casper, Riverton, Cody, Gillette, Rock Springs, Worland, Evanston, and Afton.
“Any transformation of this size on such a rapid timeline is a significant undertaking,” said Crowell, “but the implementation of MISSION Act will benefit enrolled veterans, so we look forward to making any necessary tweaks to improve the process.”