President Donald Trump Signs VA MISSION Act

Across the country, veterans combating mesothelioma and their caregivers are thankful for the VA MISSION Act of 2018. The bill was passed by Congress in May and signed by President Donald Trump on June 6.

The new law has two areas of focus:

  • Improve the care and availability of health care to veterans
  • Provide caregiver assistance to veteran carers of all eras

The VA MISSION Act will create a permanent, new, and improved Veteran Community Care Program. This program will replace the Veteran Choice Program that was created in 2014. The law also expands the benefits of caregivers that weren’t covered under the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program.

“If the VA can’t meet the needs of a veteran in a timely manner, that veteran will have the right to go right outside to a private doctor,” President Trump addressed. “This bill speeds up the claims process, increases the health services, expands access to walk-in clinics.”

What Does This Mean for Veterans?

Under the VA MISSION Act, veterans now have a choice. The men and women that once served our country can now gain access to medical treatment from either the VA or from a private provider.

“No one who defends our county in uniform should have to fight for their lives when they come back, when they come to their home,” President Trump stated.

America Shield IconThe law also gets rid of the pre-existing requirements that a patient had to meet when accessing care. For example, a veteran could only receive community care if they lived more than 40 miles from a VA facility or they had waited more than 30 days for an appointment.

Veterans with mesothelioma will now have a chance to get connected to treatment options and specialists they might not have had access to before. If they cannot be seen by the VA in a suitable timeframe, they now have a right to take their prognosis into their own hands.

Helping Veteran Caregivers

Under the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program, assistance was only available to caregivers of post-9/11 veterans. Under the VA MISSION Act, benefits and assistance will now be available to carers of veterans from all eras.

Prior to 2001, caregivers of veterans didn’t receive the same benefits. They weren’t eligible for cash stipends or medical benefits.

“In 2017, caregivers received between $7,800 and $30,000 a year,” according to AARP. “The stipends are not considered taxable income.”

People iconThe new VA MISSION Act will now provide all caregivers of veterans with mesothelioma these benefits. They will also receive training, respite care, and even have peer support available to them.

This new law will greatly help the carers of veterans with disabilities like mesothelioma. Many veterans develop asbestos-related diseases because they were exposed to asbestos fibers during their time in the military. For instance, World War II and Vietnam War veterans may have been exposed when buildings were destructed during combat.

Dr. Lebenthal: Changing Lives at Boston’s VA

Yearly in the United States, there are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed. Of those cases, one-third of patients are veterans.

There are more than 100 government hospitals and over 1,000 outpatient clinics that provide health care services to veterans. Unfortunately, there are only a few facilities that specialize in treating mesothelioma.

The VA Boston Health Care System provides hope to veterans that are diagnosed with this incurable disease. Veterans are seen in a timely manner, offered reduced or free lodging, and often reimbursed for their travel expenses.

“We are proud to offer 360-degree comprehensive care for all Veterans with mesothelioma before, during and after a potential surgery,” states the VA Boston Healthcare System section of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Dr. Abraham LebenthalVA Boston is home to specialist Dr. “Avi” Lebenthal. He is recognized for treating veterans with pleural mesothelioma.

Dr. Lebenthal is one of the only mesothelioma specialists providing care in the VA system. He is also affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Lebenthal trained under renowned specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker.

“When planned and executed precisely the ‘impossible’ becomes possible. As a nation, the most valuable resource we have is our people, morally and ethically we are obliged to provide them with the best possible care, especially our Veterans,” said Dr. Lebenthal.

Get connected to Dr. Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal by using our free Doctor Match Program.

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    Sources & Author

  1. VA Boston Healthcare System. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/25/2018.
  2. President Trump Signs VA MISSION Act. VFW Veterans of Foreign Wars. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/25/2018.
  3. S. 2372: VA MISSION Act of 2018. GovTrack. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/25/2018.
  4. Remarks by President Trump at Signing of the VA Mission Act of 2018. The White House. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/25/2018.
  5. S.2372 – VA MISSION ACT OF 2018. The United States Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC). Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/25/2018.
  6. More Caregivers for Veterans to Be Eligible for Stipends. AARP. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/26/2018.
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About the Writer, Nicole Godfrey

Nicole Godfrey is the Senior Content Writer for Mesothelioma Guide. She writes and edits pages to make sure that mesothelioma patients and their families receive the most current and significant information about mesothelioma.