Jun 6 2018

Bill Includes Tillis Provisions To Empower VA to Innovate and Modernize Veteran Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, attended the signing ceremony of the John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act. Senator Tillis is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan law, which will strengthen healthcare services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) while streamlining the department’s community care programs to ensure veterans receive efficient, timely and quality care, whether inside the VA system or from providers in their communities.

The legislation includes two provisions authored by Senator Tillis that will:

  • Allow the VA to use a third-party entity to electronically process health care claims from medical providers.
  • Authorize the VA to implement pilot programs for new and innovative payment and delivery models for VA healthcare that will allow the department to modernize and adapt to the ever-changing needs of the veteran population.

“Today is a step in the right direction to modernize the VA and implement commonsense solutions to deliver on the VA’s mission of providing veterans with the best healthcare, resources, and support possible,” said Senator Tillis. “The VA MISSION Act will ensure that veterans have timely access to quality care, whether in a brick and mortar VA facility, or through one of VA’s community partners. I’m pleased that my provisions to improve payment processing and authorize new pilot programs to modernize the VA were included. I applaud Congress for coming together on a bipartisan basis to follow through on the promises we made to those who served our country, and I thank President Trump for joining us to support our nation’s veterans.”

The VA MISSION Act consolidates and improves VA community care programs, which allow veterans to receive healthcare services provided by private hospitals and doctors. The legislation also includes provisions to improve VA’s ability to hire high-quality healthcare professionals, expand VA caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras and establishes a process to evaluate and reform VA’s existing facilities to best serve veterans.

The bill also authorizes and appropriates funding for the VA to continue the Veterans Choice Program until the new, streamlined ‘Veterans Community Care Program’ established in this legislation is implemented. In addition, the legislation will help improve existing VA health care and services by removing barriers for VA healthcare professionals to practice telemedicine, strengthening processes for opioid prescribing by VA and community care providers, and eliminating impediments to hiring and retaining of VA health care professionals.

The VA MISSION Act received broad support from leading veterans groups that represent millions of veterans in the United States. A group of 38 veteran and military advocacy organizations wrote to the House and Senate in support of the VA MISSION Act. Read a copy of the letter here.

The VA MISSION Act was passed by the full U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 347-70 on May 16, and the full Senate by a vote of 92-5 on May 23.

A one-page summary of the VA MISSION Act is available here, and a section-by-section summary is available here.