This weekend we pause to observe Memorial Day to remember those who died and served our nation protecting our freedom and liberty. 

 

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” Those are the words of President Abraham Lincoln. They are inscribed on a pair of metal plaques that flank the entrance to the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs. And they affirm our obligation to care for those who are injured during their service and to provide for the families of those who perish on the battlefield.

 

That’s why America’s hospitals and health systems continue to work to ensure that our veterans get the best possible care. And why we were pleased to support the VA Mission Act, which passed Congress this week with overwhelmingly bipartisan backing.

 

The bill, which President Trump is expected to sign quickly, will streamline and consolidate the Department of Veterans Affairs' various community care programs into one permanent program. This will provide continuity for veterans to access care outside of the VA’s medical network and decrease confusion about eligibility criteria and covered services. The bill also removes some arbitrary obstacles to veterans accessing care, like the 40-mile limit or 30-day wait period currently required through the Choice Program, and addresses problems with prompt payment to community providers.

 

We believe a strong partnership between America’s hospitals and health systems and the VA is essential to ensure our nation’s veterans receive the health care they need and deserve. And we continue to work with the VA to ensure veterans have access to the care they need, when they need it. This week we hosted a webinar for members with Kameron Matthews, M.D., Veterans Health Administration acting deputy undersecretary for health for community care. Dr. Matthews reviewed the Mission Act and answered questions from AHA members on a variety of VA-related topics and programs. AHA members can click here to watch a replay of the webcast and view our webpage with a number of VA-related resources.

 

America’s hospitals and health systems stand ready to work with the VA in implementing the new “Veterans Community Care Program” to care for our veterans. These brave men and women have sacrificed for our country and deserve the best possible, timely care in their communities.