Rounds, Manchin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Extend MISSION Act Deadline
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the Veterans Affairs Saving Network Appointments From Upheaval Act, otherwise known as the “VA SNAFU Act,” which would delay the implementation of new access standards for non-VA healthcare providers.
“The men and women who wore the uniform of the United States have earned the benefits they were promised,” said Rounds. “Our legislation seeks to make sure the transition from the Veterans Choice Program to the Veterans Community Care Program, as outlined in the VA MISSION Act, does not adversely impact veterans. The VA must continue to provide care and services to eligible veterans throughout the transition period. Our bill also automatically enrolls veterans exposed to toxic airborne chemicals or stationed near open burn pits into the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, unless they choose to opt out. This will make it easier for those veterans to receive adequate care and updates pertinent to them in a timely manner. Our nation’s veterans served our country and we owe it to them to make sure they are properly taken care of.”
On June 6th, as directed by the VA MISSION Act of 2018, millions of veterans will be forced to navigate new access standards for non-VA healthcare providers. Senators Rounds and Manchin are concerned that the VA has not taken enough time to properly plan and prepare its staff, systems and community networks for the implementation of the proposed access standards. Specifically, the market assessments of community care providers which were designed to make sure that the system was ready for the transition are only now just getting underway. The senators are concerned the VA may not be able to certify and tell veterans whether community providers across the country will provide as-good or better care than VA facilities. For example, under the new rules, the VA will implement a drive-time standard which it has never done before and could result in significant confusion and frustration for both VA front line staff and veterans. This bill extends the implementation date for the new non-VA healthcare access standards until after all market assessments are completed.