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The VA Mission Act of 2018 was designed to greatly improve veteran access to VA healthcare. This legislation’s formal name is the VA Maintaining Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act. The Act strengthens VA’s ability to deliver trusted, easy to access, high quality care at VA facilities, virtually through telehealth.

In the past, among of the chief complaints about VA healthcare involved timely scheduling of appointments, care and services. Under the VA Mission Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs is required to coordinate timely care including help for those who need VA medical services outside their region of residence.

The Act authorizes VA providers to use telehealth technologies to deliver care over state lines and into Veteran’s home, allowing VA to enhance the accessibility, capacity, and quality of VA health care. It also directs VA to implement a pilot program to establish mobile deployment teams to address and improve care in underserved areas.

As part of this process, VA is establishing access standards and standards for quality that will apply to VA facilities and community providers. The proposed access standards were announced January 30. They are based on analysis of best practices in government and the private sector and tailored to the needs of Veterans.

Veterans who access community care can expect a familiar process with several improvements through a new urgent care benefit, expanded eligibility criteria, and improved quality of care. Community providers can expect their interaction with VA will get easier with new IT systems, better communications, and more timely payments.

The VA says it is leading the health care industry in transparency by enabling Veterans to compare data across VA and the private sector so they can make informed decisions when selecting a provider. As Secretary Wilkie said in a recent statement, “we are giving Veterans the power to choose the care they trust, and more Veterans are choosing VA for their health care than ever before.”

Dr. Melissa Glynn serves as the assistant secretary for Enterprise Integration (OEI) and is responsible for leading efforts to continuously improve VA operations. Her office focuses on enhancing Veterans and employee experiences through effective enterprise integration and execution support of people, processes, technology, innovations and maturing management capabilities.