VA has implemented the second phase of a series of enhancements to the Veterans Choice Program. As part of these enhancements, eligibility for the program has been expanded.

On October 1, 2015, VA removed the enrollment date requirement so that any Veteran enrolled in VA health care could be eligible for the program if he/she met one of the specific eligibility criteria. Effective immediately, two additional expansions have been made:

  1. Veterans’ specific health care needs, including the nature and frequency of the care needed, will be taken into consideration when determining eligibility. For example, routine and simple procedures, such as simple tests or treatments like an allergy test or an immunization, may be sought through the Veterans Choice Program. Similarly, if a Veteran needs repeated appointments for a course of treatment, such as chemotherapy, the frequency of travel could become an excessive burden on the Veteran. This burden may be alleviated by use of the Veterans Choice Program. These examples of potential expanded eligibility fall under the “unusual or excessive burden” eligibility criterion. Staff at the Veteran’s local VA medical facility will work with him/her to determine if he/she is eligible for any of these reasons.
  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.

You can find additional details on the full eligibility criteria here.

These continued modifications serve the critical purpose of allowing greater numbers of Veterans access to care under this program. VA is continually working to make improvements to the Veterans Choice Program, so please visit www.va.gov/opa/choiceact periodically for the latest updates. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Veterans and our partners to ensure continued improvements to Veterans’ access to care.


About the author: Kristin Cunningham is director of business policy for the Veterans Health Administration’s Chief Business Office.

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Published on Dec. 1, 2015

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

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20 Comments

  1. Bill D December 8, 2015 at 10:26 am

    post

  2. george james guidish jr December 5, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    I was given choice in march 2015 for knee replacement still waiting as of dec.6 2015 101’st airborn 67/68 Vietnam Vet.!!!!!!!

  3. Sylvester Alexander December 5, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I am a 100% disable veteran and I had previously been given treatment for glocoma and was told that I would be contacted for a future appointment. Well I am still waiting since March of 2015 and in a few months it will be March 2016. I live in the city of SANTONIO, TEXAS AND THIS IS WHERE THE VA THAT SERVICE MY AREA. I END UP GOING TO A CIVILIAN PROVIDER WHO MADE THE VA DISPOSITION UN TRUE FOR HAVING GLOCOMA. I STILL HAVEN’T HAD THE DARK FIELD TEST FROM THE VA.

  4. Anne Buxton December 5, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I tried enrolling in to the choice program because we don’t have a full service clinic near by. The nearest one is about 80 miles away from where I reside. I tried to enroll hoping as a 100% Disabled Veteran to be able to make use of a local dental facility. Unfortunately as I understand, there is no such program available to receive dental care as a 100% Disabled Veteran, as we are entitled to free Dental Care. Every time I seek dental care, it is a long rural drive, and even though it’s already 80 miles away from the nearest full service VA, a round trip also takes me abut 6 hrs.to commute, and it is not much fun to ride a small back road through the woods it in the dark, especially if you got eye trouble. I am just wondering why the VA can not couple their Dental Service with the Military. I understand they are 2 Independent government agencies, but would it not be much more cost effective. I am just wondering since where I live we have 3 Military Installations near by and every Veteran with a 100% disability is already eligible to hold a Military ID. I don’t think we would suddenly swamp every military installation in order to get our teeth pulled, but I certainly believe it would shorten the waiting time for dental appointments to those with better access to a full service VA Clinic.

  5. James J Harkins December 5, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Both my brother and I are 80+ and live 25 miles from JAH VA in Tampa, it is a burden to drive back and forth, especially since I am also a caregiver. That said there seems to be no exceptions in your policy for situations like ours; will the present CHOICE policy be amended to address situations such as ours? And if so, when?

  6. john s benka December 4, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I had made a coment it got lost because I miss type ur code ???

  7. john s benka December 4, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    what ???????????????

  8. Charlotte Fox December 4, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I have been unable to get answers as to what services are actually provided by the Choice program. I am 100% s/c, Navy veteran, Vietnam War era. I am in dire need of dental care. The VA dental will only pull teeth or treat infections but nothing else. The VA healthcare is all I have; I cannot afford to buy dental insurance. VA dental does not provide preventative care nor implants or dentures; things that would improve health as well as emotional health. I need two of my top front teeth removed but there is no help for implants & not only would I feel self conscious about it, my other teeth would cave in. The VA dentist told me that much but said they could not do anything about it!!!!
    Please provide information. Because if good dental health is not important to the VA, then perhaps media attention & possibly legal attention needs to be brought forward.
    Thank you

  9. William l Perkins December 4, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I have epidural injections and radio frequency ablation to by lower back very often during the year. Am I eligible for care outside the va. My condition is service connected.

  10. VALERIE HODGES December 4, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    WHAT MATTERS THE MOST ??? SIMPLE- “RESPECT” ALL THE ABOVE COMMENTS ARE TRUE. PLUS, HOW MANY DISRESPECTED VETERANS, ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TAKING THIS UNORGANIZED, LACK OF PROPER PERSONNEL TRAINING AND MOST OF ALL; LOSS OF QUALITY OF LIFE!!!

    WE ALL KNOW, THAT WHILE ON ACTIVE DUTY, IF WE HAD PERFORMED THE TOTAL LACK OF DISREGARD FOR CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS; WE WOULD BE COURT MARSHALED IN A DAM HEART BEAT. DIS-HONORABLE DIS-CHARGED. SO, WHY IS THE VA NOT HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE LACK OF THEIR ACTIONS ?

    DO WE (VETS), BANNED TOGETHER FOR A FEDERAL CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT ? I SAY, IT IS TIME TO CONTACT REAL LEGAL HELP. HOW MUSH LESS, OF OUR RIGHTS ARE ARE WE EXCEPTING NOT TO RECEIVE; IN WHICH, THE INABILITY TO HEAL, CAUSES ANGER AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DEPRESSION!!! OUR LIVES SUCK.

    I HAVE LOST EVERYTHING, MY HOME, MY SAVINGS, MY PERSONAL PROPERTY, MY SELF WORTH AND PURPOSE. JUST BECAUSE VA MED (ORTHO) WOULD NOT SEE ME AND DENIED CARE. AND, PREVENTED THE VA CHOICE PROGRAM.

    I HAVE DRAINED MY ON KNEES, GONE FROM BED RIDDEN, WALKERS AND CRUTCHES,TO WALKING ON MY OWN AGAIN. AS 100% DAV I THANK THE VA FOR IGNORING MY RIGHTS.

  11. rudy December 4, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Sorry vets but you’re not gonna get any exoediated attention from the VA. They do things slower than a turtle. Sad but true.

  12. Jose Benrier December 4, 2015 at 9:11 am

    I am under this program and after a short wait I began treatment for pain. Everything went well and suddenly I was dropped by the contract physician since the Choice Program had not approved additional procedure. It has been two weeks now since this took place. I contacted the Choice Program and they told me that the authorization was pending VA approval. When I asked the representative what I needed to do to get the process expedited, she told me to contact VA PCM….Well, I am at a loss since the reason I am in the program is because I cannot get an appointment with the local VA outpatient clinic. When I told the representative that I was confused, she kindly thank me for my service and hung up. I am looking for assistance as the administration has time to post information on the program, but not assist the veteran to get the expedite care they need.

    • Robert Swails December 4, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      The above e-mail from Jose Benrier is “exactly” what has happened to me, and I fully understand his frustration. I talked to a Supervisor from the Choice Program and was told he would call me back with a decision the same day (that was in October). Still waiting. One person will enter my information and the next person I talk to re: the status of the request cannot find the information. Poor communication is one of many problems this plague this program. I should waited for VA.

  13. Donald Gokey December 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    I am a Navy veteran with service connected impairments rated at 100%, T&P. In approximately 1985, the Navy discharged me for medical reasons. They informed me that my health conditions (back and eyes) disqualified me from further service. At that time I had completed 17 years of Navy service, and I was discharged without any retirement benefits. Most of my 17 years was served after my back and eyes injuries occurred. The Navy has refused to pay me medical retirement; I have nothing to show for my 17 years of service. I am grateful to the VA, with its flaws, for years of compensation and healthcare. My feedback on the flaws:

    When will the VA finally (if ever) provide equal access to healthcare to disabled veterans? Most Americans routinely receive accessible healthcare with good communications., as required by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and Civil Rights laws? Maybe veterans haven’t “earned” the right to such extravagance, sarcasm intended.

    When will the VA require all VA facilities and departments to have a method for the deaf, the blind, and the mentally and/or physically impaired veterans to “call in” and receive help or get answers to questions. For the Hard of Hearing, using a telephone is not an option, including receiving a calls, like when the VA calls the veteran and leaves a voice message.

    Secure (MyHealtheVet) messaging partially fills this need, but many departments are not using secure messaging. There should be a means of communication available to every single department at every single VA facility with every single veteran. In other words, a veterans should be able to electronically contact, for example, the Travel Office to ask questions or conduct their business. For “normal” veterans, who do not have the impairments, like Hard of Hearing, they can easily make the required phone calls, whenever it is necessary. The phone call method does not work for the Hard of Hearing. In fact, the Hard of Hearing can barely, if at all, communicate in person, even when they are standing in front of a VA employee. Veterans, no matter whether they have a disability of any type, are asked to make a phone call when they need VA assistance. Or sometimes, disabled veterans are told to drive to the VA facility to receive help. Not every veteran can drive, often because of their service-related injuries. When a veteran needs to travel to receive medical care, the VA should automatically provide the safest medical transportation vehicle and assistance, like an ambulance or a wheelchair van with operators.

    All service-connected veterans who have debilitating medical conditions OR veterans who use medical equipment, such as: various types of wheelchairs, other mobility aids, breathing apparatus, and other medical equipment. Some impaired veterans, even those with life-threatening impairments, would rather die at home than ask for help. VA employees should always offer help to veterans — not fight them attempting to prevent someone from receiving too many benefits.

    VA law already has a legal provision called Special Mode of Transportation that says veterans, who need medical transportation, should be provided transportation at VA expense. This method of helping veterans is often overlooked by clinicians and providers at certain VA facilities, and, unfortunately, some veterans go untreated; some die.

  14. Darrell Lee Perry December 2, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I am a Navy Vet I would like to know what benefits that I am still entitled to. I came out in 1994.

  15. Dawn Cherry December 1, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    I have been put in the VA choice program. Because I need Rotater Cuff surgery. It has now been over 4 months and still no help. I hope they find a better way to help us. I personally work for the VA, and am a Navy vet. I really would like to have this fixed. I am tired of the pain. Thank You

    • Roy s December 4, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      I totally agree with your comment. I myself have been waiting two years for a colonoscopy I’ve had to I have my doc put in for veterans choice four times because it expired? and still no appointment that was in Oregon. Now starting over in California.

  16. Jay Balaski December 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    What about veterans who live outside the USA? Im 100% disabled service connected an live in the Philippines.

    • Robert McCarty December 4, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      The VA already has a program for veterans that live outside the continental US. I used it when I lived in Honduras. It is a great program and works better than the Veterans Choice Program. The Veterans Choice Program does not allow vets to get the medicine they need from a local pharmacy. Veterans Choice is a stupid program. Now there is a fight between Fee Basis and Health Net and vets are caught in the middle!

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