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Blumenthal Statement on VA Decision to Expand Veterans' Health Care Access, Immediately Implement Changes to Veterans Choice Program

(Washington, DC) - Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement upon the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) announcement that they are implementing changes to the Veterans Choice Program’s ‘40-mile rule.’ Effective immediately, VA will now determine eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program based on the distance between a veterans’ place of residence and the nearest VA medical facility using driving distance rather than straight-line distance.

This commendable, common sense rule change will allow nearly two times more veterans to access affordable, accessible, and quality health care that they need and deserve. Distance to a VA facility will now be determined by road mileage, not an arbitrary line that previously prevented countless veterans from receiving necessary care. I am pleased that VA listened to stakeholders and is taking steps to reduce the under-utilization of this program that is dedicated to providing care to our nation’s veterans. The immediate implementation of this change will ensure veterans are not denied care simply because of where they live and they are no longer faced with the burden of traveling exceptionally long distances to VA medical facilities.”

At a Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing on February 26, Senator Blumenthal pressed Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on this very issue, urging a change to the "40-mile rule” as it could be the cause for significant under-utilization of the Veterans Choice Program.