VA Makes More Changes to Veterans Choice Program

A visitor leaves the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rancho Cordova, Calif., on April 2, 2015. Rich Pedroncelli/AP
A visitor leaves the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rancho Cordova, Calif., on April 2, 2015. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

VA has made changes to the Veterans Choice Program that it says will expand eligibility for the program.

Effective immediately

  1. "Staff at the Veteran’s local VA medical facility will work with him/her to determine if he/she is eligible" for treatment with a civilian doctor under the Veterans Choice Program. Some of the new factors that will be taken into consideration when determining eligibility for the program include:
    • Individual healthcare needs
    • An excessive burden by traveling 40 miles to a VA clinic for repeated treatments such as therapy
    • Inclement weather
    • Poor roads
    • Lack of transportation
    • Need for a traveling attendant
    • Illness that prevents travel
  2. Veterans who live more than 40 miles driving distance from the closest VA medical facility with a full-time primary care physician are now eligible for the program.

Under the Choice Act, veterans who have to wait longer than 30 days for an appointment with the VA, or who live further than 40 miles from a VA facility, can opt to see a civilian provider at no charge.

The Veteran's Choice Program has come under fire from Congress and veterans' groups since it was implemented in November 2014 and several changes have been made to the program to expand eligibility to veterans seeking health care.

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