The VA MISSION Act of 2018 (PL 115-182) addresses, among other measures, privatization of facilities under the Veterans Health Administration within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Included in these measures is to expand hospital care, medical services, and extended care service through certain healthcare providers (Medicare-participating health care providers, the Department of Defense, the Indian Health Service, federally-qualified health centers, and any other health care provider that meets certain criteria). The bill includes language indicating that the VA will take steps to ensure that access to, quality of healthcare remains consistent with that offered at VA facilities, and will attempt to minimize burden associated with these transitions.
As a part of this transition, the Act requires the VA to develop and administer an education program to inform veterans of their healthcare options, including disseminating information related to their health insurance and supported healthcare. A similar training program will be implemented for employees and contractors of the VA to teach them how to administer non-VA healthcare programs.
In Chapter 4 – other matters relating to non-Department of Veterans Affairs providers – the Act outlines various provisions relating to health treatment. Included in these provisions are, among others:
- Establishing protocols to ensure that opioid prescribing practices adhere to evidence-based guidelines developed by the Opioid Safety Initiative of the VA; and
- Enforcing standards and requirements for the clinical treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma-related conditions, and traumatic brain injuries.
The Act also addresses improvements within the VA healthcare system, including the expansion of treatment via telemedicine, establishing a Center for Innovation for Care and Payment, and bolstering the family caregiver program, among other measures.