The VA Mission Bill, which is designed to expand health care access for American veterans and create greater accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs, is now law.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Wednesday applauded the president’s signing into law landmark legislation he authored. The signing took place less than a week after Sen. Isakson sat down with members of the media in Atlanta to discuss the highlights of the legislation.
The John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act, called the VA MISSION Act for short, is a bipartisan bill that Isakson worked on for more than 18 months and is the 16th veterans bill signed into law since January 2017.
“We owe our veterans the best possible care and support that they have earned,” said Isakson, who participated in the bill signing with the president. “This is a truly meaningful victory for our nation’s veterans, who will benefit from more choice and fewer barriers to care. The signing of this legislation marks the completion of the final piece in a great mosaic of veterans reforms that we set out to accomplish over the last two years. I thank President Trump for his unwavering support for our veterans, and I appreciate my colleagues in Congress who upheld our commitment to our veterans by voting for some of the most significant reforms to-date to improve the VA’s current healthcare delivery system.”
Isakson called the bill the “final crowning glory” of 11 VA reform measures that were part of an effort that began nearly five years ago.
The VA MISSION Act builds on legislation previously introduced by Isakson to consolidate and improve 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 establish 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 retention of VA healthcare professionals.
The VA MISSION Act was passed by the full U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 347-70 on May 16. It was approved by the full Senate on a 92-5.