Veterans now have to opt-out if they don't want VA to share their medical records

VA will now automatically share veterans' medical records with VA-certified community care providers.

Abbie Bennett
October 01, 2019 - 2:49 pm

Photo by Master Sgt. Kerri Spero/102nd Intelligence Wing

The Department of Veterans Affairs will now share veterans' healthcare records with its network of private doctors when veterans seek care outside VA -- unless they opt-out. 

The MISSION Act, which launched June 6 to replace the CHOICE Act, expands veterans' access to private doctors in a VA network of providers. In order to streamline the process, VA said it has changed its policy from requiring veterans to provide signed permission to release their records, to requiring veterans who don't want their information shared to submit that in writing.

“The MISSION Act gives veterans greater access to care, whether at VA facilities or in the community,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement Monday. “We are providing seamless access to care, improving efficiency and helping to ensure veterans get the care they need, where and when they need it.”  

Previously, veterans had to provide written notice to VA saying it was OK to share their medical records, opting in. Now, those records will be shared automatically, unless veterans fill out and submit a form saying they don't want their records shared with the doctor they see outside VA, opting out. 

VA shares veterans' health information with its community providers "using a secure and safe electronic system called the Veterans Health Information Exchange," according to the department.

Sharing the records electronically "improves patient safety," according to VA, "particularly during emergency situations."

Veterans who do not want their health information shared electronically should:

  • Fill out and submit VA Form 10-10164 to the Release of Information Office at the nearest Va medical center now or at any time in the future;
  • Veterans who already opted out before Sept. 30 do not need to submit new forms;
  • Veterans who restricted specific information VA shared by submitting VA Form 10-0525 will need to opt-out entirely by submitting the 10-10164 form. 

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Reach Abbie Bennett: or @AbbieRBennett.