By a vote of 92-5, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation, S.2372, to streamline and modernize the Veterans Administration (VA) health system. The Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act of 2018 provides an additional $5.2 billion to fund the VA Choice Program for the remainder of the year. A notice on the Department of Veterans Affairs website states the VA Choice Program is expected to run out of funding between May 31 and June 15.
Provisions of the bill include:
- Eliminates the 40-mile or 30-day wait periods for access to community care;
- Establishes Medicare payment rates for community care, with exceptions for rural areas and value-based payment models;
- Requires the VA to establish a prompt payment process; and
- Creates a VA residency program and a loan repayment program for those training for specialties that are in short supply.
The House passed the measure last week. President Trump is expected to sign the bill in early June.