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  • Washington Highlights

    VA Announces Access Standards for Community Care Program

    Kate Ogden, Physician Payment & Quality Specialist

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Jan. 30 announced proposed access standards for community care, as well as provisions for urgent care access, which will become effective in June. These provisions stem from the VA MISSION Act (P.L. 115-182), passed in June 2018.

    In its press release, the VA provided some detail on their proposed access standards, noting that the access standards will be based on average drive and appointment wait times.

    • For primary care, mental health, and noninstitutional extended care services, VA proposed a 30-minute average drive time standard or appointment wait time of 20 days.
    • For specialty care, VA proposed a 60-minute average drive time standard or appointment wait time of 28 days.

    Veterans eligible for receiving care at the VA would be able to choose to seek care from a community provider if these standards times were exceeded. The press release also noted that Veterans will have access to urgent care within the community. The complete access standards and urgent care regulations are expected to be published as proposed rules in the near future.