Will New VA Missions Act Aid Vets with Asbestos Diseases?
Since the release of the 2014 reports that exposed the ridiculous and disastrous amount of waiting time veterans faced when attempting to be treated at a VA facility, the administration has made attempts to improve the system.
Later that year, they introduced the Veterans Choice Program, which mandated that the Veterans Administration can pay for the cost of private healthcare when the vet is having difficulty securing treatment through the VA.
Though the Veterans Choice Program was set to expire in early 2017, a law signed in April of that year allowed for it to continue until the budget was used up.
Now, the new VA Missions Act extends the Choice Program further and calls for a comprehensive overhaul of the Choice Program so that it can better serve veterans of the U.S. military.
Advocates for veterans with mesothelioma wonder whether or not the new-and-improved Veterans Choice Program will make it easier for ALL veterans – even those who served in peacetime – to receive the benefits they deserve when diagnosed with an asbestos disease caused by exposure during service to the country.
It’s hard to tell.
The VA Maintaining Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act (the official name of the Mission Act) will serve to consolidate the Veterans Choice Program with the VA’s six other current community care programs.
It also calls for a number of reforms aimed at modernizing the VA health care system in general. Why? Simply because the 2014 act did not significantly improve healthcare for veterans.
For example, many veterans have experienced a lapse in coverage over the years, specifically when VA hospitals and centers cannot serve them.
Under the Mission Act, this should not happen again, so mesothelioma patients – as well as those with other diseases – should be able to obtain continuous assistance for treatment for their disease without worrying about stoppages.
Of course, victims of mesothelioma must still prove that their disease is service-related, which is often very difficult since – in most instances – decades have passed since they served.
That’s a daunting challenge, especially when quick access to treatment is essential. Furthermore, it can be a complex process for older vets and, sadly, it’s not likely that the revamped Veterans Choice Program is going to make that any easier in the near future.