Senate passage today of legislation reforming VA Choice is a victory for our veterans – continuing our commitment to honor their service and providing them with the best care available. The House passed the bill last week.
The American Medical Association (AMA) believes every veteran deserves timely, accessible, high quality health care – whether within or outside the VA system. The bipartisan leadership from the Veterans Affairs committees in both chambers produced a bill that is worthy of our veterans.
The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (VA MISSION Act of 2018) will ensure veterans have continuity of care external to the VA’s medical network, invest in the modernization of VA medical care facilities, expand veterans’ access to clinically validated telehealth services within the VA, and authorize $5.2 billion in urgently needed funds to prevent interruption of veterans using the Choice Program.
In addition, the bill will continue to fund vital programs to recruit and retain health care professionals to provide quality care for veterans. The bill establishes a loan repayment program for medical residents who are training in specialties deemed by the VA to be experiencing a shortage. It also will fund scholarships to medical students in exchange for service to the VA following residency training.
This bill will give veterans more choices and reduce barriers to care. Once President Trump signs this into law, the AMA will work with the VA and our veterans to make implementation of these reforms a success.
By David O. Barbe, MD
American Medical Association