Veterans would see the Choice Program — and its beleaguered “30-day/40-mile” provision — end, under a proposal to revamp the way their government-sponsored health care is delivered.
Under “30-day/40-mile,” veterans only could seek care from private contractor-health care providers if they have to wait more than 30 days for an appointment or live more than 40 miles from a Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility.
The department has submitted to both houses of Congress a bill that would:
* Articulate eligibility requirements more clearly and succinctly.
* Put VA on a path toward fostering a “high-performing network” of providers.
* Cut clinical and administrative red tape.
* Merge and modernize community care programs.
The proposed Veterans Coordinated Access and Rewarding Experiences (CARE) Act also would:
* Give each veteran more input into the treatment he or she would receive, and where they can get it.
* Ensure that staffing levels at VA and providers’ facilities are adequate, particularly where they now are below standards.
* Offer optional walk-in treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.
The bill would give VA greater power to train and keep medical staff, provide greater financial-management incentives to businesses, and enhance partnerships with other federal agencies.
“We want veterans to work with their VA physicians to make informed decisions that are best for their clinical needs, whether in the VA or in the community,” VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin, said. “This bill does just that, while strengthening VA services at the same time.”