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Senate Approves Bill To Clarify Veterans Choice Act

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Senate has approved bi-partisan legislation to clarify the circumstances under which veterans are allowed to get medical care from their hometown providers at the VA’s expense. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson has more…

The bill, authored by Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, specified that living within 40 miles of a Veterans Affairs health care facility does not automatically disqualify a veteran from receiving non-VA care – unless that VA clinic or hospital actually offers the needed services.

Speaking on the Senate floor last Friday, Moran said the legislation was necessary because of the way the VA had interpreted the Choice Act, intended to give veterans the option of using health care outside the VA if facilities are more than 40 miles away.

“Unfortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs has interpreted it in a way that eliminates the opportunity for a veteran who happens to live within 40 miles of a facility, even though that facility doesn’t provide the service the veterans needs, from accessing that care,” Moran said.

VA Secretary Robert MacDonald said recently that his hands were tied because of the original language of the Choice Act.

On Friday, Moran insisted that McDonald has more flexibility than he’s acknowledging. The bi-partisan measure now goes to the House for consideration. 

Read the text of the bill here.