Veterans in Baker and Union County don’t have to travel to the VAMC in Walla Walla, Washington, or to the VAMC in Boise, Idaho to get any medical or mental health treatment. In most cases, a Veteran can use the Mission Act through the VA Healthcare system. The Mission Act provides Veterans access to local community providers for most treatments needed. In Union County, there is a VA Clinic that may be used, but the Veteran can still request the Mission Act benefits provided in order to gain access to local providers.
There are four steps to the process of getting medical or mental health treatment from local community providers rather than making the hours-long journey to Walla Walla or Boise. These steps are: 1. Eligibility 2. Appointments 3. Getting Care 4. Billing. You can find these steps and a more thorough description of the Mission Act at VA.gov.
1. Eligibility: A Veteran must be enrolled in the VA Healthcare system in order to qualify for Mission Act benefits. There is an enrollment office in every VA Medical Center and that is where a Veteran must go to enroll in the system. For some Veterans, it may be necessary to contact a Veterans Service Organization like the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) or the American Legion to assist in completing the enrollment process. Once the Veteran is enrolled in the VA Healthcare system then they can request a local community provider through their primarycare doctor.
2. Appointments: Once the Veteran gets enrolled in the VA system, they will be assigned to a primary care doctor on a medical team that combines physical and mental health services to ensure the Veteran receives the best care available. The Veteran’s primary care provider then will provide a referral to a provider local to the Veteran. The Veteran will then receive an appointment to be seen by that local provider. In some cases, the VA primary care will make the appointment and In other cases, the Veteran will be able to make the appointment themselves.
3. Getting Care: Once the Veteran needing care gets the referral, and the appointment for care is made, all the Veteran has to do is to go to the appointment and receive the treatment and care they need. This means medications, procedures, exams, casts, and braces will be covered by the Mission Act.
4. Billing: After the treatments and care are provided to the Veteran then the community provider will send the bill to a Third Party Administrator (TPA) for payment by the VA. It is important to arrange the appointment through the primary care provider to ensure the Veteran has approval prior to the appointment for any care received in order to guarantee that the Veteran will not be billed. This does not typically apply to emergency situations like ER visits, but the only way to know for certain is to contact the VA or the Veteran’s primary care after any emergency treatment was provided.
As always, a Veteran can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 988 and then press 1 at the prompt to talk to someone if they are in need.