CHA News Article

Department of Veterans Affairs Proposes Access Standards for Veteran Community Care Program

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has proposed access standards under the new Veterans Community Care Program, as required by the MISSION Act of 2018. The VA also issued a proposed rule that establishes a new benefit for veterans to access urgent care services.

The access standards will be used to determine whether a veteran can access care outside a VA medical facility at an eligible community provider. Specifically, the agency proposes access standards of:

  • A 30-minute average drive time standard for primary care, mental health and non-institutional extended care services
  • A 60-minute average drive time standard for specialty care
  • Appointment wait-time standards of 20 days for primary care, mental health care and non-institutional extended care services, and 28 days for specialty care, with certain exceptions

For urgent care, the VA proposes a veteran could receive care at any provider in the community care network, with the possibility of a co-pay charge. Additional details on the establishment of an eligible community provider network are not included in the proposed rule and are expected to be issued in a separate interim final rule in late spring. The MISSON Act requires the program to be implemented by June 6. Comments are due March 4.

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