A recently signed law now allows all veterans to seek treatment for their ailments with non-U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs authorized healthcare providers.
In an interview with CNMI Military and Veterans Affairs executive director Stanley Iakopo, he said the VA Mission Act of 2018 that was recently signed by President Donald Trump now allows veterans to seek care from any federally qualified healthcare provider and are no longer limited to VA healthcare providers.
“This VA Mission Act covers everything about veterans in terms of healthcare. Before, you could only see a doctor that is a certified health care provider for the military. With this law, just signed, it is saying ‘why wait in line when you can just go to another doctor who is not a Department of Defense health provider.’ They can just go to any doctor,” he said.
Iakopo said this act is only applicable to veterans who are already eligible for health care under the VA.
The access to walk-in care section of the Act would help veterans by eliminating the need to wait hours in line to be seen by a physician for a checkup or to refill their prescriptions.
Iakopo said this is great news for local veterans because the CNMI currently has only two VA healthcare providers.
“It’s only hurting our veterans,” he said.
Although the Act has already been implemented, the Commonwealth Health Center has yet to comply with the new law.
“I want to expand this to the hospital. I will be meeting with CHC to make sure they understand the laws so that they know that they are able to serve veterans,” he said.
Iakopo said the benefits only apply to veterans who have already been deemed eligible by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and who have already been receiving healthcare under the department.
For those who would like additional information regarding veteran access to walk-ins, call the CNMI Office of Military and Veterans Affairs at 664-2650.
The office, located on Capitol Hill, is also open to the public from 7:30am to 4:30pm.