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MISSION Act gives veterans more options for healthcare

Jonathan Roberts • Jul 19, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Veterans now have expanded healthcare options outside the VA network, thanks to implementation of the MISSION Act by the Department of Veterans Affairs in June.

That’s something James Crider, chief of community care at Mountain Home VA called “beneficial.”

“I don’t see any negatives to it,” Crider said. “The benefit is that there is now an urgent care benefit. Eligible veterans who have been to a VA appointment here in the last two years can go to a participating urgent care up to three times a year at no charge.”

The MISSION Act — which stands for Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks — is designed to improve veteran access to healthcare and was signed into law in June 2018. Still, officials at the Mountain Home VA in Johnson City are hoping to inform more veterans of the benefits associated with the MISSION Act — especially the urgent care benefit, which they describe as “one of the lesser-known” benefits.

“I think the urgent care part will make it easier for those veterans that can’t travel a long distance,” Crider said. “Being in Northeast Tennessee, there’s a lot of rural areas where we have veterans living and it (will) definitely be beneficial for them.”

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, said the bill was important to pass because it gives veterans more healthcare options both in urban and rural areas, saying he was “agnostic” about where veterans got their healthcare and that he wants veterans to “get the best care (they) can get, wherever that may be.”

Roe says the MISSION Act gives those in urban areas an opportunity to bypass long wait times at local VA medical centers, and rural veterans the ability to stay home and get their care from a primary care provider. Of the urgent care statute though, Roe said it might be “one of the best” parts of the bill.

“I think that’s going to be one of the best things we’ve done in this,” Roe said. “I would not be surprised if we expand that, because people will like it so much … I think you’re going to find that’s one of the best things (of the act), I really believe it is.”

He also commended the Mountain Home VA’s seriousness about instituting the MISSION Act, and said Johnson City is “very, very blessed” to have a “state-of-the-art VA.”

Crider said there are more than 30 participating urgent care facilities in the region, but that none of those are in the Tri-Cities. There are several area urgent cares in the process of getting approval, however, though Crider was unsure when those would be coming online.

For more information, visit https://militarybenefits.info/va-mission-act/#ixzz5a4HfECA5, or visit https://vaurgentcarelocator.triwest.com/Locator/Care to find a participating urgent care in your area.

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