Boozman Advocates for VA MISSION Act

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) spoke on the Senate floor in support of improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) community care programs as the VA begins implementation.

On the one-year anniversary of the signing of the VA MISSION Act into law, the VA rolled out the signature program that offers veterans more options to better support their needs – no matter where they live.

Boozman delivered remarks to highlight the importance of the reforms to VA’s healthcare delivery.

Mr. President, I’m pleased to join my colleagues to show our continued support for improvements to the VA community care programs.

Last year, under the leadership of Senate VA Committee Chairman Isakson, we passed the VA MISSION Act so veterans would have access to healthcare and services in their own communities.

I was proud to support this landmark legislation that improves how the VA delivers healthcare

Earlier this month, the VA rolled out the Veterans Community Care Program.

The VA MISSION Act offers veterans more options to better support their needs – no matter where they live.

This allows a veteran and his or her doctor to decide where it’s best for the veteran-patient to receive care—taking into consideration the veteran’s healthcare needs and the availability and location of both VA and community care.

For veterans who live in a rural state like Arkansas, this is especially good news.

Arkansas veterans can be proud of the VA facilities in our state. The VA hospitals in Little Rock and Fayetteville and those in neighboring states provide quality care and service for our veteran population. The challenge is that these are located in more urban areas.

The Community-Based Outpatient Clinics make healthcare more accessible to veterans in rural areas, but if a veteran needs more advanced care than a CBOC can provide it can mean a full-day trip to the nearest VA hospital. The reforms to community care will allow more veterans to avoid that extended travel time and enable them to receive quality care within their own community.

This program expands access to more local doctors and urgent care within the VA’s contracted network.

Our nation’s veterans were promised access to healthcare for their service and sacrifice. This program continues our work to uphold that pledge.

The VA MISSION Act improves the VA’s ability to hire high-quality healthcare professionals, expands VA caregiver benefits to veterans of all generations and creates a process to evaluate and reform VA facilities so they can best serve veterans.

It is evident that under Secretary Wilkie’s leadership, his team has been focused on executing a complete plan to implement this program and minimize any negative consequences our veterans might face as we transition to a new and updated community care program.

The VA has been proactive in educating veterans about the reforms and eligibility requirements with a variety of sources of information about criteria for community care.

The department has provided training to VA employees across the country on the updated criteria. Its initial outreach included talking to health care providers about the changes.

There are still parts of the VA MISSION Act that have yet to be enacted, but so far, I am pleased with the rollout. My colleagues and I on the Senate VA Committee take our oversight responsibility seriously. We will continue to closely follow the implementation and be ready to fix issues that may arise along the way so we can be sure that benefits are delivered as promised.

The responsibility to ensure funding for community care programs falls to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

As the chairman, I will continue working to fully fund the expansion of community care and I look forward to support from my colleagues to provide the necessary resources to ensure this program’s success.