March 24, 2015

Manchin Applauds VA for Expanding Veteran Choice Program

The policy change is expected to roughly double the number of eligible veterans for the program

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin applauded the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) decision to expand eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans who live 40 miles from the closest VA facility or who face a significant delay in scheduling an appointment to receive health care in their communities at a non-VA facility. The VA will change the calculation used to determine the distance between a veteran’s home and the nearest VA medical facility from a straight line distance to the actual driving distance. The change is expected to roughly double the number of eligible veterans and will be made through regulatory action in the coming weeks.

“Although there is still work to be done to improve the Veterans Choice Program, I am encouraged that Secretary McDonald has heard our concerns and has taken a first step toward fixing the 40-mile rule,” Senator Manchin said. “As committed as our veterans are to protecting this country, we must uphold our commitment to them. By changing the way the distance is measured between a veteran’s home and the nearest VA facility, this reform will help those veterans in West Virginia who have to drive more than 40 miles and have been excluded from this important program. As a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I will continue to closely monitor the VA’s progress on the Choice Program so that all those who have honorably served this country are able to access the quality health care they deserve.”

Last month, Senator Manchin joined 41 of his colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Robert McDonald to raise serious concerns about the implementation of the Veterans Choice Card program. To read the letter, please click here.

The Veterans Choice Program was authorized by the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA) to enhance its health care system and improve service delivery to better serve veterans and set the course for long-term excellence and reform. Veterans seeking to use the Veterans Choice Program should call 1-866-606-8198 to confirm their eligibility and to schedule an appointment.