WASHINGTON, DC – At the request of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee convened a hearing last week to provide oversight on implementation of the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Network (MISSION) Act. Brown, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement community care standards for the Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP) as soon as possible to ensure consistent care for our nation’s veterans. VCCP was created by the VA MISSION Act to consolidate VA’s community care authorities into one easy to access program for veterans, so that they could decide with their VA provider how best to access timely quality care. Implementing across-the-board community care standards will help ensure Ohio veterans have access to the best care, whether they visit a VA medical facility or a certified community care center.
During the hearing, Brown also pressed VA for more transparency and accountability as the implementation process moves forward. For months, VA neglected to include the veterans community or Congress in meaningful discussions or incorporate veterans feedback about how the Department was implementing the law. Brown demanded answers as to how VA will craft a program that allows veterans to go into the community, without compromising or draining resources from the excellent medical professionals within VA that provide the care most veterans rely on.
“Veterans should receive the same high quality care, regardless of whether they go into the community for care or to a VA Medical Center,” said Brown. “VA needs to implement the same standards across the board to ensure our nation’s veterans get the best care possible, and increase transparency throughout the implementation process.”
In addition to establishing the Veterans Community Care Program, Brown fought to ensure the VA MISSION Act included several provisions to provide better care for veterans. Those provisions include:
- Expanding caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras. Previously, comprehensive caregiver assistance and benefits were provided only to veterans injured on or after September 11, 2001, leaving family caregivers and veterans injured during World War II, the Korean, Vietnam and 1990-1991 Gulf War ineligible for this critical support (learn more).
- Giving specific training to doctors outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system on how to address veterans’ unique medical needs (learn more).
- Ensuring safe opioid prescribing practices for doctors and healthcare providers outside the VA system (learn more).