Isakson, Blumenthal Statement on VA’s Expansion of Veterans’ Choice Program
More sensible interpretation of 40-mile criteria will allow veterans better access to health care
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, respectively, today released the following statement regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) announced change to the Veterans’ Choice Program's “40-mile rule:”
“We welcome this important change to a program that is intended to help ensure thousands of veterans have access to affordable, accessible, quality health care. For elderly, ill or disabled veterans, traveling long distances to VA medical centers can be difficult or impossible. Veterans deserve the highest-quality health care, and should not be denied this right simply because of where they live. The Veterans’ Choice Act put in place reforms to address these challenges and improve veterans’ ability to receive care. We are pleased that Secretary McDonald is responding directly to concerns voiced by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and other members of Congress to ensure those reforms are working for all veterans throughout the nation. This is a common-sense adjustment to a rule that has the potential to significantly impact the success of the Veterans Choice Program.”
The Veterans Choice Program allows veterans to receive health care outside of the VA if they have to travel more than 40 miles to receive VA care or if they face more than a 30-day wait time for care at a VA facility. Currently, the distance eligibility is calculated "as the crow flies,” leaving many veterans ineligible. The change announced today will allow the 40-mile provision to be calculated by driving distance, and will significantly increase the number of veterans who can take advantage of this program.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.
Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.