For over 50 years, health centers have proudly served anyone who needs care, including the brave men and women who served in our armed forces. In communities throughout the country, health centers have forged successful partnerships with local Veterans Affairs (VA) providers to ensure more veterans have timely access to primary care, especially in rural areas and communities where doctors are scarce.
In August 2014, Congress created the Veterans Choice Program, which permits qualified veterans to access care through eligible providers and facilities that are not a part of the veterans health care system. FQHCs were specifically named in the statute as eligible to care for participating veterans, suggesting that Congress intended for FQHCs to play a central role in assisting the VA to implement the Program successfully. While the new working relationships authorized through this law have served as a foundation for even stronger partnerships between health centers and the VA, given the tight timeframe in which the Choice program was created, it has not operated as expected.
In response, in June 2018, Congress passed the VA MISSION Act, which consolidates the many VA community care programs into one program with the goal of creating a system that is easier for veterans and providers to navigate. FQHCs will remain eligible providers of care for veterans outside the VA as designated in the new Community Care program. In the short term, the MISSION Act appropriated $5.2B to continue to provide care to Veterans through the Choice program until June of 2019 when the Community Care program is set to go into effect.
NACHC Letter in Support of VA Mission Act
Recently introduced legislation (R. 5047) would create a pilot program to expand health centers’ care to veterans.
NACHC Fact Sheet: The Veterans Choice Act and Health Centers
NACHC Press Release: Growing Number of Veterans Depend on Community Health Centers (November 2017)
Learn more about what NACHC and health centers do to Support Our Veterans.