VA works to expand Choice Program eligibility

Eligibility criteria for 40 miles calculation would change to driving distance


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In order to expand eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it will change the calculation used to determine the distance between a Veteran’s residence and the nearest VA medical facility from a straight line distance to driving distance. The policy change will be made through regulatory action in the coming weeks. The Veterans Choice Program was authorized by the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA).

“VA has worked very quickly to implement the Veterans Choice Program and we appreciate the constructive feedback shared by Veterans and our partners to help us improve service to Veterans,” said Secretary Robert McDonald. “We’ve determined that changing the distance calculation will help ensure more Veterans have access to care when and where they want it. VA looks forward to the ongoing support of our partners as we continue to make improvements to this new program.”

The method of determining driving distance will be through distance as calculated by using a commercial product. The change is expected to roughly double the number of eligible Veterans.

The Veterans Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit that allows eligible Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. Veterans seeking to use the Veterans Choice Program should call 1-866-606-8198 to confirm their eligibility and to schedule an appointment. Since the Choice Program went into effect on November 5, 2014, more than 45,000 medical appointments have been scheduled.

Using expanded authorities from VACAA, VA continues to expand access to care through increased staffing and enhanced collaboration with both the Indian Health Service and Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems. See the VACAA progress fact sheet here:

VA is enhancing its health care system and improving service delivery to better serve Veterans and set the course for long-term excellence and reform. VA has made significant progress in various areas of the legislation, such as extending the Assisted Living/Traumatic Brain Injury Pilot program and Project Arch, to expand timely access to high-quality health care for Veterans.

For more details about the department’s progress and related information, see www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/factsheets_and_details.asp and www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/documents/FactSheets/Progress-Report-March-2015-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

A fact sheet on the 40-mile-rule change can be found at www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/documents/FactSheets/March-2015-40-mile-rule-change-factsheet.pdf.

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Comments

  1. dan flesh    

    This still doesn’t do a thing for me and most of the veterans in this country that are sick and tired of the games. I go to a VAMC located 68 miles from me (more than 40 as the crow flies). There are NO CBOCs which are connected to that hospital within 40 miles of me. I should be eligible, right? Wrong. Another VAMC (not even in the same VISN) has a CBOC located 39 miles (about 30 point to point miles) away in another state. It doesn’t matter, I am not eligible because I am within 40 miles of ANY VA facility, even though that facility offers no treatment for the things I need to see a doctor for.

    Just wanted to say thanks again VA, for nothing. To be honest with everyone, I have given up on the VA, I now receive my primary care and most specialty care in the private sector – where for some reason I am treated with more respect as a patient – go figure. By the way I am 100% service connected, but it doesn’t matter what your rating or if you have no rating, the VA operates as if they are providing charity to veterans and we (the veteran) should be thankful for whatever they do. ————BS.

  2. Michael Hawyard    

    Much needed! Now if they get the second change we have been advocating for, which is measuring the distance to the closest VA facility that can provide the needed service, not just the closest facility.

  3. tomas gomez sr    

    HEY DAN FLESH. SHUT UP AND STOP CRYING.YOU GET TRAVEL PAY. UR 100 % RIGHT?. AND WHY DON’T YOU RESEARCH A LITTLE FURTHER MAYBE ITS AN ERROR ? THE VA IS TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING. CONTACT PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP YOU WITH THIS PROBLEM. IT COULD BE A MISTAKE. I HAVE THE SAME. 30 MILES TO ONE CLINIC. AND 90 MILES FROM A HOSPITAL. BUT I GET TRAVEL PAY.. SO THEY NEED TO WORK ON THESE PROBLEMS GIVE THEM A CHANCE. AND YOU SAY THANKS FOR NOTHING VA! YOU GOT SOME NERVE! DO YOU SAY THANKS FOR NOTHING WHEN YOUR CHECK HITS THE BANK EVERY MONTH? YA SOUND LIKE A SPOILD KID STOMPING HIS FEET! SPEAKING OF FEET. I WISH THE VA HAD FEET. SO I COULD KISS THEM AND LET THEM KNOW HOW GRATEFUL I AM TO THEM. AND IM NOT EVEN NEAR 100 % NOW GET BACK IN FORMATION AND KEEP YOUR TRAP SHUT! 🙂

  4. tomas gomez sr    

    Mr flesh. your a lucky guy having privet coverage. lots of us out here don’t have that option. but ya know what? even if i did i wouldn’t leave the va health care system. i trust them more that privet ins! and respect? what VA hospital are you going to? i get respect no matter what va clinic or hospital i go to. i never had to wait for care. i love my doctors and nurses. they really truly care about me. i had a doctor ester gavish at the va. she went back to isreal. she was the most loving caring doctor i ever had in my life! and i miss her. but my new doctor that replaced her dr yorkof is great! i have no complaints about the va health system. or the VA!. i wish all the vets that like the VA would jump on this site. i bet they out number all of the people like you?

  5. John L Cook Jr    

    Thanks for your help and support

  6. wing nut    

    Tomas why are you yelling at someone for expressing their opinion regarding what they are dealing with (all caps means YELLING). The problem Dan duscusses is a common issue for Vets who need treatment services not provided by the closest VA facility. Even Michael repeats the same issue in his comment. This mileage computation should have never even been an issue. Mileage computations used for any other purposes are based on actual mikes travelled, not by line of sight. Unless Vets are going to sprout wings to fly there, they have to follow the roads. And if the closest facility does not provide the needed services, the Vet should be covered to use the closest facility that DOES provide the services needed. It’s like denying treatment from a spinal specialist that’s 60 miles away because there’s a general practitioner who’s 30 miles away.

    For your second comment, I’m glad that you are one of the lucky ones who has received good care from the VA. There are some stories out there like that, but the vast majority of those I know dealing with the VA get the run around. When it takes in upwards of 2 years for treatment to start, that’s not good care. And I also think the vast majority of the 22 Vets per day who take their own life to relieve the pain would likely disagree with you. Be thankful that you are one of the lucky ones and by all means tell people about your fortunate experience, but disrespecting others for expressing their opinions based on THEIR experiences makes you look like a complete ASS.

    1. tomas gomez sr    

      21 vets a day killing them selves? where did you get that number? prove what you say. i know vets r doing it. over 50.000 from my war. i almost did it.once. i don’t trust the word of a guy like you. whats your name ,? i now its not wing nut.. the loss of any vet that way tears my heart out!!..put the facts on this web site. some times i think some one out there has an agenda to discredit the VA. no matter how hard they try!

  7. Hermon    

    Still too complex for most veterans and VA Staff. NEED TO KEEP IT SIMPLE!

    1. tomas gomez sr    

      mr cook sorry about the caps. im not to good with computers.you show me one instance where a vet had to wait 2 yrs fir treatment. if what you say is true . prove it on this web site. and im not disrespecting mr flesh. i did not mean to do that. and if it looks that way i sorry..the va is overwhelmed. they are trying the best they can.ya want the truth about delayed care. here it is. besides the mistakes the va made.bonuses all kinds of perks. that gave bad people incentive to lie.ill give ya that. but the other reason is. every time a vet puts a claim in. no matter how small. the va has to follow through and examen it. 1 claim 2 claims 3 three claims ok. but 20 to 25 claims. any idea how long the takes if its in the thousands? the truth is sir. i don’t care what war you were in.. theirs some bad vets out there trying to milk a dry cow. lots of those claims are holding up the line to good service from the va. bullshit claims that are hurting the vets that only put in a few claims. that really need help. a good veteran only wants what he or she earned.in my opinion there should be a limit of the amount of claims you can put in at one time. lets say three. when they are decided . u can put 3 more in. i think this will change the back log. and help the guys who really need it. i say . if you earned it you should get it. but i also say. get rid of the bull shit claims that some greedy people are putting in. the parties over guys and none to soon! the va is going to weed out the bad . to help the good. what a shame.that we have people gaming the system. our own brothers! this is slowing down the traffic to faster service. and that’s the truth! as for Mr flesh. after i wrote that i was thinking i don’t know what his 100% dis is, he could be in a wheel chair for all i know. and im sorry for that. and ur right the va has to work on that problem. all i say is give the va a break. let them work it out. don’t say they don’t care about us. they do. i didn’t feel like that years ago. i probably cursed them out more than lots of you. but now i really think they care OK? i sir have compassion. and mercy its the people that don’t. i don’t like. OK good luck to all the good veterans that only want what you earned. hang in there. there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. to all the bad vets out there that think you can game the system. the va police and doctors and instigators are gonna pay you back for holding up the line i love america! and my government!..there not perfect.god knows im not. cya,

  8. tomas gomez sr    

    i meant to use the word investigators not instigators.

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