The Mission Act is a Veterans Community Care Program launched by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on June 6, 2019. The act aimed to improve the VA Healthcare System by providing Veterans with more healthcare options. The Mission Act is to ensure that veterans’ access to healthcare is expanded and their quality of care is improved. It was expanded to include prescription medications, veterans’ homes, non-VA medical care access, in-network VA care, and more. In addition, this act improves how veterans access healthcare for alcohol and drug addiction, commonly called substance use disorder (SUD).
Furthermore, the act ensures that veterans can receive emergency care in any VA-approved facility in the United States. So, if you are a veteran suffering from SUD and need treatment, take advantage of your ability to seek treatment. You can even go to a private facility for specialized and personalized treatment.
What Is Important About the Act?
The Mission Act law was enacted in 2019 to allow all veterans to receive medical care as soon as needed, including emergency treatments, in all VA-approved facilities in the United States. In addition, the act allows veterans to choose facilities of their liking, whether these facilities fall under the VA.
Before the law was enacted, veterans had difficulty accessing healthcare fast enough. There were long wait times, and the quality of services they received was poor. On average, veterans had to wait about 21 days for their appointments. Furthermore, because most veterans do not live near treatment facilities, they had to travel for hours to reach the nearest VA facility.
All Department of Veteran Affairs care networks, including the Veterans Choice program, are combined under the act. This makes things easier for veterans who need assistance because they can now be seen by any health facility that is part of the Community Care Network. This will help you avoid long lines and long-distance travel.
The Mission Act has also allowed non-VA providers to work with VA providers to improve veterans’ health. This collaboration has been made possible through improved IT systems that have made communications more accessible. The technology also ensures providers get prompt Department of Veterans Affairs remittances.
Even though the Mission Act allows veterans to select their providers, there are some limitations that you should be aware of. For example, a veteran can only seek help from specialists with referrals. That means you must get a referral for treatment from a substance use specialist.
The Pros of the VA Mission Act
Within the first 18 months of the VA Mission Act being enacted, over 2.6 million military officers have been referred to community health care providers. Before the act took effect, veterans could only receive treatment from the VA.
In cases where a specific service was unavailable through the closest facility, veterans would be referred to another VA facility. Unfortunately, this meant veterans had to travel to receive the necessary care. The VA Mission Act eliminated this dilemma. Apart from more accessible and faster access to treatment, the Mission Act provides additional benefits.
The government has boosted the budget for veterans’ healthcare. This has allowed VA to hire and recruit the most qualified and experienced medical professionals to work in their facilities. The government even created a scholarship program that supports VA doctors.
Improved Communications Systems and Technology
Technology allows healthcare providers to share information when treating the same patient. This allows for continuity in the provision of healthcare services. By sharing patient information, doctors can easily care for the patient because they will not have to start everything from scratch when a patient visits.
Local Treatment Options
Veterans living in rural and remote areas can be treated locally, choosing their preferred facilities. This includes the choice of healthcare experts outside of the VA.
Are You Eligible for the Mission Act?
After learning about the benefits of the VA Mission Act, it is good to find out whether you can also enjoy these benefits as a veteran. To be eligible for these benefits, you must qualify for a Department of Veteran Affairs healthcare plan and be enrolled. You must also receive the Department of Veteran Affairs approval before visiting community health providers.
Eligibility is tied to meeting at least one of the criteria listed below:
- The state where you reside lacks a fully-fledged VA facility you can attend.
- The VA facility in the state does not meet the quality standards.
- The Department of Veteran Affairs cannot provide healthcare within the designated access standards.
- The Department of Veteran Affairs facilities cannot provide the needed care.
- It is in the veteran’s best interest to receive treatment from a community healthcare provider.
Substance Use Treatment and the VA Mission Act
The VA Mission Act may cover your treatment if you are a veteran suffering from SUD. First, the VA will assess your case to determine whether you need treatment and the level of healthcare you need. Then, decide if an inpatient or outpatient treatment program is necessary.
The good news is that the VA Mission Act has expanded veteran choices regarding accessing mental health and substance use treatment. You can now access medical care through the Department of Veteran Affairs facility, telehealth, a walk-in or urgent care facility, or a community provider. In addition, if you are eligible for VA Mission Act benefits, the Department of Veteran Affairs will pay for your visits to the approved community healthcare provider.
Generally, you need VA approval to access alcohol and drug use treatment if you want to attend a non-VA facility for your treatment costs to be covered by the VA. If you are approved, you can enjoy the following services:
Detoxification is the first step in the treatment of drug addiction. This process will help you stop alcohol and drug use while working through painful withdrawal symptoms. After detoxification, you will be provided with medications to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. In addition, medical staff will supervise you 24/7 to ensure you withdraw safely.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)
Also known as day treatment, PHP allows you to get treatment while living in your home. You will be going to the facility during the day to receive treatment which will take several hours.
Residential or Inpatient Treatment
Residential treatment is necessary if you need close supervision. You will live in the facility for the weeks or months you are under treatment. Most inpatient treatments take anywhere from 15 to 90 days. This is enough time to provide you with the emotional and medical support you need to recover.
As the name implies, outpatient treatment allows you to live at home while attending treatment programming during the day. The treatment will involve meetings and therapies to help you emotionally. You will attend your treatment sessions for 10 to 12 hours weekly.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
Once you complete your residential program, you may need ongoing treatment and support. In this program, you may have to attend the treatment or therapy session for about three to five hours weekly. That is what IOP provides.
Ongoing treatment is crucial for recovering drug users. The support ensures your recovery by involving you in activities to prevent you from slipping back to drug use. You may be required to join support groups to help maintain sobriety.
How to Use the Mission Act
Before you visit any medical facility for your SUD treatment, contact your local VA office and present your case. First, the VA will assess your situation to determine whether you need medical attention. Then, the VA staff will assist you in finding a facility that offers the services you need and is just a short distance from your home. Once your local VA clears you to receive care from non-VA facilities, you can choose the provider you want, provided it is approved.
The next step is to schedule an admission or appointment. The VA will transmit your referral to the healthcare provider. You can contact the VA to learn more about how the VA Mission Act works.
VA Mission Act Healthcare Providers
Granite Recovery Centers offers evidence-based treatments to help you overcome your mental health and substance use struggles. In addition, you will get help from other addicted veterans facing the same struggles and supportive professional staff members to recover from your drug addiction and mental health problems.
The VA Mission Act is available to help all veterans. Unfortunately, most veterans are not aware of it. That is why the VA tries to raise awareness about the act, its availability, and the proven treatments to encourage as many veterans as possible to seek medical treatment for their mental illnesses and drug addiction. The VA has made many positive strides since this act was enacted. If you are a veteran struggling with SUD, this is the right time to find more information about the VA Mission Act so you can benefit from it.
Once admitted into a recovery program, dedicate yourself to completing the treatment. Also, don’t forget about ongoing treatments and therapies. The Mission Act has provided a path to help every affected veteran gain access to the best SUD treatment and rehabilitation available. Do not shy away. If you’re facing such issues, act today.