The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs today voted 20-2 to approve legislation to streamline and consolidate the Department of Veterans Affairs’ community care programs. According to a committee summary, the VA MISSION Act of 2018 (H.R. 5674) would require access to community care based on certain access criteria, doing away with the 40-mile or 30-day wait period currently required through the Choice Program. The bill would establish Medicare payment rates for community care, with certain exceptions for rural areas and value-based payment models; require VA to establish a prompt payment process; and establish processes to improve information sharing with community providers and ensure safe opioid prescribing practices, among other health care provisions. The legislation also would provide $5.2 billion to extend the VA Choice Program, which is expected to run out of funds in mid-June, until the new program takes effect; create a commission to recommend ways to modernize or realign Veterans Health Administration facilities; expand the VA Post-9/11 Caregiver Program; and establish a pilot VA residency program and loan repayment program for residents training in shortage specialties, among other provisions.

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