Isakson, Roe Statement on Proposed Eligibility Criteria for Veterans’ Community Care

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and U.S. Representative Dr. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today issued a joint statement in response to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reaching a major milestone in the implementation of landmark legislation they authored to improve healthcare services for veterans.

The VA MISSION Act was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed into law in June 2018. In the new law, the VA’s existing community care programs were streamlined into one Veterans Community Care Program to help ensure veterans receive efficient, timely and quality care, whether inside the VA system or from providers in their communities.

The law instructs the secretary of the VA to establish standards for veterans seeking care within the VA. If VA is unable to meet certain designated access standards, veterans will be given the option to receive care in the community. Today, the VA announced the proposed new access standards to determine a veteran’s eligibility for community care that will take effect in June.

“We put the needs of our veterans first when we passed the VA MISSION Act, and that should continue to be our top priority throughout the law’s implementation,” said Isakson and Roe. “This landmark law ensures veterans get care when and where they need it, whether that is in the VA or in the community. The VA MISSION Act provides the VA secretary the flexibility to determine what standards for access to community care are necessary to accomplish this goal, and we believe these new standards will enable veterans to receive care that best fits their individual needs while making the VA healthcare system stronger. We worked diligently for more than a year to find bipartisan compromise that resulted in passage of the VA MISSION Act, and we will continue to work collaboratively with the VA and other stakeholders to guarantee that both the implementation of the VA MISSION Act and the new Veterans Community Care Program are a success from day one.”

Today’s announcement by the VA is on track with a March deadline for the VA to provide a report to Congress detailing these access standards.

The John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act, called the VA MISSION Act for short, is a bipartisan bill that Isakson and Roe worked on throughout the 115th Congress. It was passed by a vote of 347-70 in the House and 92-5 in the Senate and had the support of more than 40 veterans groups. A one-page summary of the legislation is available here, and a section-by-section summary is available here


The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 116th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as nearly 700,000 veterans.