"What this involves is the veterans being able to receive care in the community at the VA's expense and also being able to have access to other services like urgent care and emergent care", said Dr. Maureen McCarthy, Phoenix VA chief of staff.
The new and improved Community Care Program launched by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is now up and running.
Other guidelines are more straight-forward.
"I think it's safe to assume that over the next several years you will see more veterans getting their health care in the community", said Dan Caldwell, senior adviser to Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group. Veterans automatically qualify if they live in a state without a full-service VA facility, which would include Alaska, Hawaii and New Hampshire.
In the new rule, the VA acknowledged those budgetary concerns and noted that use of private care is voluntary for veterans under the program.
He said, "The launch of the VA Mission Act today represents a new chapter for veterans here in southwest MI and across the country".
The new law doesn't require veterans to do anything differently if they want to keep seeing their current doctor or receiving the care they do now.
Lebanon VAMC is one of 170 medical centers in the nation with the sole objective of providing world-class medical care to America's Veterans.
In an email to the newspaper, the Hampton VA expressed optimism that the new program will have a smoother start.
Hampton has increased staff in its Office of Community Care and call center, two areas where it expects to see greater traffic.
To learn more about the program, go to www.missionact.va.gov. For more than 70 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
The Veterans Community Care Program is created to serve as a supplement to the health care the VA provides to veterans in-house.
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