Upton touts easier, faster health care for vets


PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — A new Department of Veterans Affairs program that launched Thursday is meant to make it simpler and quicker for veterans to get health care.

The VA Mission Act was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan margin and was signed into law by the president last year.

“We passed … the Mission Act to expand the VA to help our veterans, no matter where they live, to be able to have accuses to the services that they deserve,” U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said Thursday, addressing a group of veterans at a VFW in Portage.

He said that beginning Thursday, access to health care services will not necessarily mean long drive and wait times. The new program will allow veterans to seek care at a local, non-VA facility if they have to drive more than 30 minutes for mental health care or 60 minutes for specialty care, or if wait times at the VA are more than 20 days for primary care or 28 days for specialty care.

Local providers are already gearing up for the new program by getting guidance from the VA.

“We’re prepared and ready to go, really, day one. There may be some wrinkles here, but again, this was something that the Congress saw, that we heard from our vets in being responsive to their needs, to really make their health care better,” Upton said.

If you have questions about your benefits, contact your local VA office.

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