Hoeven: Senate Passes Bill to Fix 40-Mile Issue in VA Choice Act

Bill Enables Veterans to Obtain Health Care Locally if Nearest VA Can't Provide the Service

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Senate has passed the Access to Community Care for Veterans Act, introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) and cosponsored by Hoeven and a bipartisan group of senators. The legislation amends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act) to allow veterans to obtain health care services in their local community if a Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) or Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) within 40 miles can’t provide the necessary care.

Hoeven has worked for two years to pass legislation to fix the issue of access for veterans, and the measure now goes to the House for a vote.

“Providing our veterans with high-quality health care is one of the most important ways that we uphold our commitment to the men and women who have served our country’s military,” Hoeven said. “Our bill will ensure that veterans can get services close to home, either through the VA or a local private health care provider, regardless of where they live. That’s an enormous burden lifted for our veterans living in rural areas of the country, including those in western North Dakota.”

Last year, Hoeven worked to pass the Choice Act, which provides veterans with more flexible access to health care. If the VA cannot schedule an appointment for a veteran within 30 days or the veteran resides outside a 40-mile radius from any VAMC or CBOC, the Choice Act enabled veterans to receive care from the health care provider of their choice.

Veterans within the 40-mile radius, however, have still had to travel to a Veterans health care facility if their local CBOC doesn’t offer the service required unless they receive pre-approval, which is bureaucratic and inconvenient. For example, veterans in Williston or Dickinson have still had to travel to Fargo if the CBOC in their local community doesn’t provide a needed service. The Access to Community Care for Veterans Act eliminates that requirement.