Last week, Congress passed a major Veterans Affairs reform bill that includes a provision on CME to establish a program to provide education to non-VA professionals at no cost to the provider. The legislation, the “VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018” (the “VA MISSION Act of 2018”) was introduced first in the Senate and passed by unanimous consent before being passed by the House with an amendment. The Senate agreed to changes, and now the legislation is set to be signed by President Donald Trump.
Specifically, Section 123 of the bill would direct the Secretary of the VA to establish a program supporting CME focused on identifying and treating common mental and physical conditions of veterans and family members of veterans, in addition to the health care system under the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The continuing medical education material provided to non-Department medical professionals under the program shall be the same material provided to medical professionals of the Department to ensure that all medical professionals treating veterans have access to the same materials, which supports core competencies throughout the community.
The Secretary shall administer the program to participating non-Department medical professionals through an internet website of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Additionally, the Secretary shall ensure that the program is accredited in as many States as practicable, in addition to ensuring that the program is consistent with the rules and regulations of:
(A) The medical licensing agency of each State in which the program is accredited.
(B) Such medical credentialing organizations as the Secretary considers appropriate.
The Secretary shall monitor the utilization of the program established, evaluate its effectiveness, and report to Congress on utilization and effectiveness not less frequently than once each year.
The bill passed overwhelming in the Senate by a vote of 92-5 and passed in the House by a vote of 347-70. More broadly, the $55 billion bill will change how the VA pays for private care, expand a VA caregiver program, and start a review of the VA’s aging infrastructure.
President Trump has said he will sign it — and it’s likely to be touted among his most significant legislative achievements.