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Upton: Today’s a new chapter for our veterans

PORTAGE, Mich. – U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI, St. Joseph), Mike Wilson, MVAA Regional Coordinator and retired Command Sergeant Major (VCAT), Tim Loney, Deputy Director of MVAA, and Ketan Shah, Chief of Staff of the VA Battle Creek Medical Center, hosted a press conference to announce that the VA Mission Act goes into effect today, providing veterans more choices to timely, high-quality care.

The VA Mission Act’s new Veterans Community Care Program replaces the Veterans Choice Program. The VCCP provides access to community care and urgent care if the VA does not offer the care of services the veteran needs based on eligibility criteria. 

Under new access standards created by the VA Mission Act, veterans who live outside of a 30-minute drive to a VA medical facility for primary care or a 60-minute drive for specialty care and experience wait times for primary care or mental health appointments longer than 20 days or specialty appointments longer than 28 days will be allowed to seek private care. 

“The launch of the VA Mission Act today represents a new chapter for veterans here in southwest Michigan and across the country,” said Upton. “It’s a bipartisan effort to ensure that our veterans have access to the high-quality care they earned after wearing the uniform of the United States. Thanks to the new VCCP, veterans will now have the option of getting care when and where they need it, which is especially important in our large district where a number of veterans live outside of a 30-minute drive from a VA medical facility. This is a big deal.”

“This community is so patriotic and supportive of its veterans,” said Mike Wilson, Regional Coordinator for the MVAA. “I don’t think there is anyone in this region who doesn’t know or doesn’t have a veteran in their family or circle of friends.  It’s the support of community providers that will make the Mission Act a success in my opinion.”

“The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency applauds Congress and the VA for listening and responding to the health care needs of our veterans by implementing the Mission Act,” said Tim Loney, Deputy Director of the MVAA. “With nearly 600,000 veterans, Michigan has the 11th largest veteran population in the nation who stand to benefit from the expansion of veteran-centered care. The Mission Act’s goal of meeting veterans where they are, with the right care at the right place and the right time, is exactly what Michigan’s veterans need and deserve.”  

“This is an exciting time for Veterans and the employees of the Battle Creek VA Medical Center,” said Dr. Ketan Shah,  Battle Creek VAMC Chief of Staff. “We have been working diligently to prepare for MISSION Act implementation which will strengthen our ability to deliver trusted, high quality care for our nation’s heroes.”

To be able to receive care from a non-VA provider, at least one of the following criteria must be met:

  • Veteran is eligible under new access standards
  • Veteran needs a service that is not available at a VA medical facility
  • Veteran resides in a State without a full-service VA medical facility
  • Veteran lives 40 miles from a primary care physician in the VA system who were able to access private care under the Choice Program. Those veterans remain eligible for private care under the VCCP.
  • Veteran may be referred to a community provider when veteran and referring clinician agree that it is in their best medical interest to see a community provider
  • Veteran is receiving care at a VA facility that falls below certain standards

The VA Mission Act was signed into law by President Trump on June 6, 2018.



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