April 24, 2015

Crapo Notes Change in Veterans Care

Joined legislation, letters seeking change in â??40-mile ruleâ??

Washington, D.C.  - Under pressure from veterans, their families and members of Congress, including Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, the Veterans Administration (VA) today announced it has changed its policy regarding private health care access for veterans.  The move means more veterans can get health care closer to home without traveling distances to VA care facilities.


Crapo joined in legislative and written attempts to force the VA to scrap a rule denying alternative private health care treatment under the new "Veterans Choice Program."  That program offered the alternative of care in a private medical facility if veterans lived 40 miles or more from the closest VA medical center, clinic or facility, as Congress directed.  Unfortunately, the VA measured 40-miles "as the crow flies" rather than by driving distance.  


"This treatment standard was discriminatory for many veterans, including many in Idaho," said Crapo.  "Given our mountainous terrain, distances traveled by car can be far greater than simple air miles.  The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 was intended to provide veterans relief, not extra bureaucratic hurdles. I am disappointed with the VA's efforts to date to make the Choice Program difficult to use. I welcome this change."


Today, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald announced that highway miles would be the new standard for measuring distances and availability for treatment in private health facilities.