New VA Program Will Allow Some Veterans Health Care in Community Facilities

Veterans waiting more than 30 days for VA appointment can use community facilities under temporary program.

The department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun mailing Veterans Choice Cards to veterans currently waiting more than 30 days from their preferred date or the date medically determined by their physician for an appointment at a VA facility.

The Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit that allows some veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility.

According to VA secretary Robert A. McDonald, the first round of cards, along with a letter explaining the program, was issued November 5 to veterans who are eligible based on their place of residence. He said this new temporary benefit is being implemented to make sure veterans "receive the timely quality care they need in a way that reduces confusion and inefficiencies." 

Through the Accelerated Care Initiative begun over the summer, VA has prioritized efforts to accelerate veterans off the wait lists and into clinics. VA medical centers have increased access to care inside and outside of VA, added more clinic hours and work days, deployed mobile medical units and shared their best practices from the VA's high-performing facilities throughout the organization.

The VA is America's largest integrated health care system with more than 1,700 sites of care serving approximately 9 million veterans enrolled in health care services.