Back in September, we posted a blog about VA’s handling of the “Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014,” P.L. 113-146 (“Choice Act”). The “Choice Act” was intended to improve Veterans’ access to medical services – especially private-physician-services – provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
We informed you that Congress passed the Choice Act to allow Veterans access to private physicians when VA is unable to schedule an appointment at a VA medical facility within specified wait-time limits, or when the Veteran lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility or meets other eligibility criteria for using a private physician. We also alerted you to the fact that, more than a year after Congress passed the Choice Act, VA’s handling of referrals to private physicians created more confusion and difficulties for Veterans without providing better care.
Well – on October 29, 2015 – VA published a notice titled “Expanded Access to Non-VA Care Through the Veterans Choice Program.” What does this mean? It means we’ve been heard! VA’s “expanded access” isn’t a huge victory, but some of the improvements are those we called for and discussed in our September blog.