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Aug 8, 2018

Tester Holds VA Accountable for Rollout of Landmark Choice Reform Law

Senator Urges VA to Take Extra Measures to Ensure Montana Veterans' a Smooth Transition to New Veterans Community Care Program

(Big Sandy, Mont.) - Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Jon Tester is taking the VA to task to ensure a quick and smooth rollout of his landmark, bipartisan VA MISSION Act.

Tester is telling VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to quickly establish community care networks, which will include local providers who will treat veterans who rely on community care through Tester's VA MISSION Act. While the VA has a full year to implement the new Veterans Community Care Program, delays in establishing a provider network could jeopardize veterans' seamless transition to the new community care system.

"I am extremely frustrated that veterans may not receive the benefit of a fully operational network of community providers beginning on day one of the Veterans Community Care Program," Tester wrote to Wilkie. "This is not at all what was intended and what VA led Congress to believe would occur during the year and half we have been jointly working on new community care legislation."

The VA has yet to award a contract to establish partnerships with community providers to serve veterans called Community Care Networks. With the delay in creating these networks, the VA may be forced to rely on individual provider agreements during the transition from the current system to the Veterans Community Care Program.

"Mr. Secretary, I understand that you have inherited this situation, but my expectation is that you will work to mitigate the damage that has been done to the rollout of the VA MISSION Act's requirements by not having Community Care Networks fully in place on day one," Tester wrote. "In truth, these Community Care Networks are shaping up to be more of the same hassles for veterans and the community providers who participate in them. Montana's veterans and providers went through this hassle once before, and we need to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Tester is also asking Wilkie whether VA staff or a contractor will be responsible for scheduling appointments for veterans under the new Veterans Community Care Program. Tester notes that in places like Montana, the VA is more than capable of scheduling veterans' appointments in the community and that local staff have a better understanding of challenges a veteran may face to get health care, like geography or weather.

Tester's letter is available online HERE.

More information about Tester's VA MISSION Act is online HERE. Information about how Tester's law impacts Montana veterans, community providers and VA staff can be found HERE.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.


Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768


Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647


Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586


Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462


8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974


130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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