VA Choice Program Expanded
Washington - 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
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.
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.