In a June 4th email message from Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, the Secretary announced exciting news that “things will be changing June 6th at the VA” due to the passage last year of the Mission Act.
Beginning June 6, 2019, “the Mission Act will enable VA to consolidate the Department’s community care efforts into a single, simple-to-use program that will empower Veterans with the ability to choose the healthcare providers they trust.” Congress’s bipartisan act should lead to better customer service for our nation’s heroes.So…if you’re a Veteran, here’s what you can expect on and after June 6th:
- Less red tape for patients seeking care
- More satisfaction obtaining care locally
- Better predictability for patients
- More efficiency for clinicians
- Better value for taxpayers
The Secretary’s email goes on to say that “Veterans will be eligible to get community care for a variety of reasons, including when VA can’t provide the treatment they need or when care outside our system is in the best medical interest of the patient.”
The VA “listened to Veterans and heard they preferred standards based on drive times rather than driving mileage because those standards better reflect Veteran experiences, especially in large urban areas with lots of traffic”. Wilkie seeks to ensure our Veterans are spending their time getting care instead of driving to it:
- “Patients facing an average drive time of 30-minutes or more for VA primary or mental healthcare, or non-institutional extended care services, will have the option of choosing a community provider closer to home.
- For specialty care, the drive-time standard will be an average of 60 minutes.
- VA patients facing a 20-day or more wait time for primary or mental healthcare, or non-institutional extended care services, will have the option of choosing a community provider who can deliver that care faster.
- However, for specialty care, the wait-time standard will be 28 days.”
As a Veteran, you will be rightfully encouraged to ask your VA about these new options, with the expectation that the newly trained staff will be available to help them quickly understand their new choices.
According to Acting Secretary Wilkie, “These exciting and important changes speak to my top priority – delivering the best medical customer service and offering Veterans more healthcare choices. While we still have more work to do, the VA is making progress. We are seeing more patients than ever before, more quickly than ever before and studies show VA now compares favorably to the private sector for access and quality of care – and in many cases exceeds it.”
Wilkie goes on to say that in order “to maintain the trust of our Veterans, we must continue to deliver. And we will constantly innovate, upgrade, and pursue ways to better serve our Nation’s heroes. The MISSION Act is a vital part of this effort, giving VA the ability to implement the best practices we’ve learned in our nearly 75 years of experience offering community care.
For Veterans suffering from depression, this is great news according to Christopher Blackburn, co-founder and CEO of TMS Solutions, a veteran owned company. Blackburn, himself having served his country with distinction, was excited to pass along this message to those suffering from treatment-resistant depression. He noted that the long wait times and drive times for treatment were a stumbling block for many veterans seeking this innovative, drug-free approach to treating depression. Blackburn notes that TMS Solutions' patients:
- Have a Response rate of up to >80%
- A reduction in symptoms >60%
- And a Remission Rate up to >60% (showing no signs of Depression).
For more information on the Mission Act and how it will affect all Veterans, please click this link: www.MISSIONAct.va.gov. Once on that page, there is an image (shown for reference) linking to the Eligibility Criteria necessary to use a TMS provider such as TMS Solutions (these Eligibility Criteria are also listed out below).
With TMS Solutions clinics currently operating in both Eastern & Western Colorado, Utah and Washington, Blackburn is excited to make TMS Treatment readily available and accessible to all veterans, without the well-known red tape, travel hassles, and bad press that the VA has been working hard to rectify.
1. Veteran Needs a Service Not Available at a VA Medical Facility
In this situation, a Veteran needs a specific type of care or service (Like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, i.e., TMS) that VA does not provide in-house at any of its medical facilities.
2. Veteran Lives in a U.S. State or Territory Without a Full-Service VA Medical Facility
In this scenario, a Veteran lives in a U.S. State or territory that does not have a full-service VA medical facility. Specifically, this would apply to Veterans living in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
3. Veteran Qualifies under the “Grandfather” Provision Related to Distance Eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program
For this element, there are a few different ways that a Veteran could be eligible for community care. Initially, the following two requirements must be met in every case:
- Veteran was eligible under the 40-mile criterion under the Veterans Choice Program on the day before the VA MISSION Act was enacted into law (June 6, 2018), and
- Veteran continues to reside in a location that would qualify them under that criterion.
If both of these requirements have been met, a Veteran may be eligible if one of the following is also true:
- Veteran lives in one of the five States with the lowest population density from the 2010 Census: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Alaska, and Wyoming (TMS Solutions is opening an office in Cheyenne, WY in late June/early July of 2019) ,or
- lives in another State (if you live in Idaho, you can receive TMS therapy at our Spokane clinic)
- received care between June 6, 2017, and June 6, 2018, and
- requires care before June 6, 2020
4. VA Cannot Furnish Care within Certain Designated Access Standards
To be eligible under this criterion, Veterans must meet specific access standards for average drive time or appointment wait-times.
The specific access standards are described below. (Important: Access standards are proposed and not yet final).
Average drive time to a specific VA medical facility
- 30-minute average drive time for primary care, mental health, and non-institutional extended care services (including adult day health care)
- 60-minute average drive time for specialty care
Appointment wait time at a specific VA medical facility
- 20 days for primary care, mental health care, and non-institutional extended care services, unless the Veteran agrees to a later date in consultation with their VA health care provider
- 28 days for specialty care from the date of request, unless the Veteran agrees to a later date in consultation with their VA health care provider
5. It Is in the Veteran’s Best Medical Interest
In this situation, a Veteran may be referred to a community provider when the Veteran and the referring clinician agree that it is in their best medical interest to see a community provider.
6. A VA Medical Service Line Does Not Meet Certain Quality Standards
In this scenario, if VA has identified a medical service line is not meeting VA’s standards for quality based on specific conditions, Veterans can elect to receive care from a community provider with certain limitations.
Not sure if TMS is right for you? Find out.
Visit our website, www.tmssolutions.com, or speak with one of our Patient Advocates, who can answer your questions regarding TMS therapy and walk you through the process of getting the care you deserve and the help you need.
Click the button below to schedule time to speak with a Patient Advocate ONLY if you live or would get TMS Treatment in Colorado, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.