Supporting veterans healthcare is core to Ascension's mission of providing compassionate, personalized healthcare

On Veterans Day, we honor and pay tribute to this important population of men and women who have selflessly sacrificed for our freedom. As one of the leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the country, we take seriously our commitment to ensuring that veterans receive the high-quality healthcare they deserve. It is the least we can do for our nation's heroes to show gratitude to those who have so bravely served us.

Ascension commends Congress and the administration for passing and signing into law last year, and now implementing, the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act (MISSION Act). The act provides veterans more access points to care through the recently launched Veterans Community Care Program. By expanding the eligibility requirements for veterans receiving community care, the millions of veterans who access the healthcare system of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now have more options for finding the right care for their specific healthcare journey, in cases when the VA cannot.

Like the VA, we understand that veterans have unique needs and circumstances, and we want to ensure they are equipped with the tools and information necessary as they navigate the system and make their healthcare decisions. We applaud the new benefit that allows veterans to access urgent care within the VA’s contracted network without prior authorization, which will decrease delays and help veterans stay healthy through this ready access to low-acuity services.

Ascension has been involved in the VA's community care programs since their inception. Serving veterans is core to our mission of providing compassionate, personalized care to all persons, especially those most vulnerable. Increasing numbers of Americans who have been deployed overseas are returning home with complex mental and behavioral health challenges, and as caregivers it is our responsibility to ensure they have access to timely care. Over the past three years, we have provided care to more than 27,000 veterans in 83,000 visits. Additionally, across our health system, we have developed and implemented programs to recognize veterans who are patients at our facilities and our own veteran associates, as part of our dedication to take care of those who take care of us.

As Ascension engages with Congress and the administration on implementing the MISSION Act and the Community Care Program, we are supportive of policies that streamline the eligibility, referral and authorization process for veterans; increase efficiency in payment requirements from the VA to non-VA providers; and enhance interoperability. Our goal is to continue to serve veterans alongside and as partners to the VA to the best of our ability as part of a meaningful public-private partnership.

This Veterans Day and beyond, our greatest commitment is to fulfill our promise to provide the care that veterans need and deserve.

Joseph Impicciche, JD, MHA, serves as president and CEO of Ascension. He previously served as president and COO and earlier as executive vice president and general counsel.

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