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:
- 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.
- 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.