Implementing the Veterans Health Administration’s PACT Act
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 marked one of the largest expansions of health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Healthcare Transformation (OHT) Legislation Implementation Team (LIT) needed support implementing the 25 VHA-owned sections — many of which represented significant changes for both Veterans and VA employees in the field.
Coordinating and Communicating Substantial Change Throughout Implementation
Immediately upon enactment of the PACT Act on Aug. 10, 2022, VA needed to coordinate and communicate new and upcoming eligibility and benefits information, as well as impending changes and plans. To meet the act’s requirements and deliver new benefits to Veterans, VHA OHT LIT created a project management office (PMO) to organize workstreams and manage implementation. With such an extensive, high-profile new law, the team needed to move quickly and effectively while addressing numerous nuances, misconceptions and confusion.
Meeting Milestones and Engaging Employee Support
Our team brings expertise in legislation implementation, project management, communications strategy and change management to meet and exceed milestones within the first nine months of PACT Act enactment.
Establishing open communication with the field
To support VA employees in the field with their questions and concerns about implementation, the VHA PACT Act PMO prioritized open, transparent communication and provided extensive knowledge-building resources. Our team supported the following efforts:
- Launched a 24/7 Resource Room with direct access to subject matter experts the day after enactment
- Began sending a weekly employee newsletter (“IMPACT: Latest Updates for Implementing the 2022 PACT Act”) one week after enactment
- Launched multiple PACT Act trainings on the VA Talent Management System, including two trainings on the toxic exposure screening
- Created a suite of communications materials, including talking points, frequently asked questions, fact sheets, flyers and toolkits specifically designed to help public affairs officers conduct outreach to Veterans
- Presented regularly on numerous national calls, program office meetings and town halls
Leveraging employee buy-in to manage change
To use VA employees in the field as facilitators of change and direct connections to Veterans, our team assisted in identifying and establishing PACT Act Change Management Practitioners and Toxic Exposure Screening Navigators. Through change management principles and resources, these two support groups created a “boots-on-the-ground” approach to facility-level change.
Using a phased approach to launch the toxic exposure screening
One of the earliest and most significant day-to-day changes brought on by the PACT Act was the launch of a toxic exposure screening at every VA medical center and clinic in the country within 90 days of enactment. To avoid overwhelming facilities, implementation of this effort occurred throughout three phases. Our team supported this launch through all three phases, including creating, distributing and maintaining a facility implementation toolkit that includes trainings, workflows, frequently asked questions, posters, scripting, fact sheets and more.
Moving From Implementation to Operation
Since enactment, our team has helped support the achievement of numerous Congressionally mandated deadlines and raised awareness among Veterans and VA employees about what the PACT Act means for them.
However, the ultimate measure of PACT Act implementation success for the VHA OHT LIT team will be when implementation transitions to operation and PACT Act benefits and services become fully integrated into VA operations.
- Project management
- Change management
Our Team’s Advantage
- Extensive experience in implementing legislation
- Well-versed in VA operations
- Ability to pivot in a fast-paced environment