New programs under last year’s VA MISSION Act have gone into effect as of this week.

Under the VA MISSION Act, more veterans will have access to community care when the VA can’t serve them in a timely manner. This new program will better empower veterans to make their own choices about their medical care without leaving them stuck in the VA’s system.

Health care is not always easy to navigate. There are lots of rules, regulations and requirements that need to be followed, especially when getting care through the VA.

New access standards under the VA MISSION Act will make understanding community care and eligibility much simpler. Here’s a look at how the access criteria have changed: [NEED A LINK]

Veterans Choice Program (the old rules)

  • Veterans 40 miles or more from a full-time primary care physician can use the Choice program for primary care, mental health care or specialty care in the community.
  • Veterans who have to wait more than 30 days for a primary care or mental health care appointment can use the Choice program for community care.
  • Veterans who have to wait more than 30 days for a specialty care appointment can use the Choice program for community care.

Veterans Community Care Program (the new rules effective June 6)

  • Veterans 30 minutes or more from a full-time primary care physician can use the Veterans Community Care Program for primary care or mental health care. Veterans 60 minutes or more from a full-time primary care physician can use the Veterans Community Care Program for specialty care.
  • Veterans who have to wait more than 20 days for a primary care or mental care appointment can use the Choice program for community care. That number will bump down to 14 days in 2020.
  • Veterans who have to wait more than 28 days for a specialty care appointment can use the Choice program for community care.

These new standards will significantly increase the number of veterans eligible for non-VA care.

The VA has plenty of resources that explain eligibility, appointments, covered services, billing and benefits. You can explore their Community Care overview or watch the VA’s recent Facebook live discussing changes and answering questions.

Over the next few weeks, CVA Foundation will provide more resources and tools for you to use while trying out the new Community Care Program, so stay tuned!