Mission Act: New law allows veterans to see private doctors

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - Inside the command center at the Phoenix VA hospital, questions are being answered and concerns are being addressed.

"With the implementation of the Mission Act, there are some changes that have come to the VA -- including how the provider enters a consult for a veteran," Dr. Maureen McCarthy said. "What we're actually doing is streamlining the are for community care."

Rules established under the VA mission law say the VA will pay for veterans to see non-VA doctors if they have to wait longer than 20 days or dive more than 30 minutes for primary or mental healthcare at a VA facility.

For specialty care, they can see private doctors at VA expense if they have to wait longer than 28 days or drive more than an hour to see a VA provider.

Previously, veterans who had to drive more than 40 miles or wait longer than 30 days could choose to see a private doctor paid for by the VA.

The rules going into effect Thursday also allow veterans to go to non-VA urgent care clinics at VA expense without prior approval.

"And depending on your priority group, there's no co-pay or there's some co-pay," Dr. McCarthy said. "[It] helps the provider see what our wait times are, what the drive time is and the veterans' eligibility for care in the community."

Doctors here say the Mission Act enables veterans to find the balance in the system that is right for them, along with an opportunity to make informed decisions.

VA Mission Act