On this July Fourth holiday the health and welfare of the brave men and women who served in the armed forces are very much on our mind. Community Health Centers provide care to over 335,000 veterans and counting (there’s been a 55 percent increase in their numbers since 2008). Health centers have also hired thousands of veterans and are working hard to recruit and hire more. But the best news is that leaders and policymakers are acting to ensure that no veteran is forced to stand in line for needed health care. One positive development is the VA Mission Act, which was signed into law last month.
The new law, which drew bipartisan support, replaces the Veterans Choice program, which enabled veterans to obtain care from non-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care providers in certain situations. In this case, the law expands the number of circumstances under which veterans who rely on VA for their health care can receive their care from private providers instead. Health centers are included in the law as eligible providers of walk-in care for veterans. The law also establishes a pilot program to begin medical residency programs at covered facilities, including health centers. Lastly, the law offers help to family caregivers for veterans, and directs VA to conduct an inventory of its 1,400 health care facilities with a view toward eliminating unnecessary infrastructure.
To support the new law, NACHC is working with health centers to boost their ability to send and receive accurate information about patients to VA health care providers through electronic health care records. NACHC is also creating partnerships with VA facilities, graduate medical education programs, Veterans Service Organizations, state and local Veterans Affairs offices, and others to better serve veterans in the communities in which they live—no matter how remote and rural they are.
NACHC is committed to supporting the seamless coordination of care for our nation’s heroes, regardless of where a veteran receives care and the VA Mission Act helps us to do just that. If you want to know more about health centers and veterans’ care, visit this link.