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 Joint Senate-House Panel Reviews VA Mission Act Implementation


Clif Porter IIIThe Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees are conducting a joint hearing on Dec. 19 to review implementation of the VA (Veterans Affairs) Mission Act, a law which the long term and post-acute care profession views as a significant positive step in reducing red tape for veterans seeking care in nursing facilities.

The hearing, “Tracking Transformation: VA Mission Act Implementation,” is intended to focus on the VA’s progress with respect to implementation of Title I of the law, which requires the agency to institute a consolidated community care program governed by certain access and quality standards by no later than June 6, 2019, to replace the Choice program. 

Before the VA Mission Act if extended care providers, including nursing care centers, accepted a veteran patient, they were categorized as a federal contractor and subjected to additional rules and regulations just because the patient was a veteran.  

In the statement to the joint committee hearing, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) told lawmakers that nursing centers already meet very strict compliance guidelines under the Medicare and Medicaid programs. 

Adding additional regulations on top of these compliance standards is inefficient, redundant, adds cost, and takes staff time away from these veterans at the bedside, AHCA/NCAL Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Clifton Porter II said in the letter to committee leaders.

In fact, he wrote, the disparity in contracting and reporting requirements has kept many long term care providers from accepting veteran patients. 

Provisions in the VA Mission Act will help remove some of the existing red tape that may prevent providers from being able to provide care to veterans. Specifically, the law will ensure that extended care providers, including nursing center care, can legally enter into Veteran Care Agreements (VCAs), Porter said.

“As the VA is working on implementation of these agreements we must ensure that they are subject to the same rules and regulations as any other Medicare or Medicaid provider as the law intended,” the statement said.

Further, the use of VCAs for extended care services would facilitate services from providers who are closer to veterans’ homes and community support structures.

“Once providers can enter into VCAs, the number of providers serving veterans will increase in most markets, expanding the options among veterans for nursing center care and home and community-based services,” Porter said.

“AHCA appreciates the fact that your committees have worked to make these VCAs a reality. AHCA asks for your assistance in ensuring proper and timely implementation of these agreements so those veterans who have served our nation so bravely have appropriate access to quality health care,” he added.

 

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