A new directive from the Department of Veterans Affairs provides that all veterans requiring care for a service-connected disability — regardless of the extent of their injury — must be scheduled for a primary care evaluation within 30 days of their request for care. If a VA facility is unable to schedule such an appointment, it must arrange for care at another VA facility, at a contract facility, or through a sharing agreement. The directive covers hospitalization and outpatient care, but does not apply to care for medical problems not related to a service-connected disability. However, veterans needing emergency care will be treated immediately. The new provision extends a rule that took effect in October 2002 extending priority access to health care for veterans with disabilities rated at 50 percent or more. For them, it includes care for non-service-connected medical problems.
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