The bipartisan supported MISSION Act went into effect Thursday, giving service members more health care options and expanding the number who qualify for private care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The MISSION (Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks) Act allows veterans to receive primary care and mental health services outside the VA system if the average time it takes to drive to a VA facility is 30 minutes or more. It also includes better customer service, an urgent care benefit and modern information-technology (IT) systems.
"We listened to veterans and heard they preferred standards based on drive times rather than driving mileage because those standards better reflect veteran experiences, especially in large urban areas with lots of traffic,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a Fox News op-ed.
The MISSION Act's urgent care policy is aimed to bring “greater choice and access to timely, high-quality care,” according to a VA statement. Veterans can use urgent care options for the treatment of minor injuries and illnesses, such as colds, sore throats, and bumps and bruises that are typical to urgent care and other walk-in medical facilities. This benefit is offered in addition to same-day services already offered by the VA.
Here are three requirements to consider when seeking urgent care.
- Veterans first must be eligible for the benefit.
- The urgent care provider is part of the VA's contracted network of providers.
- It cannot include services such as preventive care or dental screening.