Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and 42 other senators this week forwarded a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, expressing concern with the current implementation of the Veterans Choice Card and the agency’s interpretation of veteran eligibility for care under the “40-mile rule."
“The 40-mile rule was designed to help Illinois’ 700,000 veterans and increase access to care for our nation’s warriors,” Kirk said. “I am urging Secretary McDonald to re-examine and fix the way this is being implemented so that instead of inconveniencing or turning away a veteran, we are able to provide them with the best treatment and care this country has to offer.”
Currently, the VA measures the distance “as the crow flies” from the veteran’s residence to the nearest VA medical facility, rather than the actual driving distance between the two locations. Also, the VA does not consider whether the facility provides the necessary care sought by the veteran.
A bipartisan bill passed last year allows veterans who live more than 40 miles from the closest VA facility or who face delays in scheduling appointments to access and be reimbursed for non-VA medical care.