Veterans’ Affairs Updates “40 Mile Rule”

VETERANSThe Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) yesterday announced it will alter its “40-mile rule” to improve access to health care for veterans living in rural areas. The announcement follows lawmakers’ requests that the VA reexamine the rule’s application and update it. The VA’s new rule is intended to allow more veterans who would have to travel more than 40 miles to a VA medical facility to access non-VA community care, which was Congress’ intent when it passed the Veterans Choice Act. Currently, the VA measures the distance between a veteran’s home and a VA facility using the straight-line distance, which may not accurately account for the distance traveled, particularly for Colorado’s veterans who may have to travel around mountainous terrain. The new rule would require the VA to begin using the driving distance. Although the VA was able to update the geographic straight line application of the rule, the agency said it would take a legislative fix to allow veterans to access non-VA care if they live within 40 miles of a VA medical facility but the care or service they require is not offered.

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