Increasing Veterans’ health care access; Town hall Thursday to provide valuable information

By Maricela Rodriguez, Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — In the coming weeks, dramatic changes will be occurring for veterans and their health care options and access.

Tomorrow, veterans, their families, public officials and others are invited to attend the VA Mission Act town hall, which will focus on where and how veterans can access health care outside of the VA.

It’s an opportunity for all who attend to hear updates, ask questions and express any concerns about the changes.

The Mission Act, signed in 2018, that will go into effect on June 6, is intended to strengthen the VA’s ability to deliver quality care through community medical facilities.

According to VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System public affairs officer Hugo Martinez, the town halls are imperative to inform veterans of these new health care opportunities and he doesn’t want a lack of information to be the reason why veterans aren’t taking advantage of their entitlements.

“ There are a lot of pieces to this,” Martinez said about the law. “The greatest effect is there are great choices and we are committed to provide our veterans. We have a new law that will allow them to have greater choice.”

Mission Act means veterans will have the opportunity to go to non VA providers in the community for certain types of health services not necessarily provided by the VA.

Among the changes include veterans’ ability to use specified urgent care facilities, rather than going to the emergency room. Martinez said this was a benefit veterans previously didn’t have. But that will change June 6.

Details about how the program works, signing up, making appointments, how copays and insurance work together along with the facilities that can be accessed is some of the information that will be provided tomorrow.

“ It is important that all veterans in the communities we serve are aware of this opportunity to learn, ask and receive information about the VA Mission Act,” said VCB Director Homero S. Martinez III. “VA’s goal is to give veterans greater choice over their health care, allowing VA to deliver world-class, seamless customer service either through a VA facility or community provider.”

IF YOU GO

WHAT: VA Mission Act Town Hall

WHEN: Tomorrow, Thursday, May 23, at 6 p.m.

WHERE: UTRGV Harlingen Clinical Education Building, Auditorium room 1.100 1st floor, 2102 Treasure Hills Boulevard

WHY: For veterans to learn more about the health benefits they are entitled to

MORE: There will be another town hall in Edinburg at 6 p.m., June 4, at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, 118 Paseo Del Prado.

CAN’T ATTEND

Go to https://missionact.va.gov for more information.

lseiser@valleystar.com