Scott Supports Passage of Fix to 40-Mile Choice Act Eligibility for American’s Veterans
Charleston, SC – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) issued the following statement after Senate passage of the Access to Community Care for Veterans Act (S.1463), which amends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act) to give veterans increased access to community health care when the nearest VA medical facility within 40 miles driving distance from a veteran’s home is unable to offer needed care to veterans.
“Making good on our promises to veterans in South Carolina and across the country does not stop just because they live in a rural part of our state or our country,” said Scott. “This legislation is a common sense approach to caring for our veterans and ensures that the needed care is available in their community. The Access to Community Care for Veterans Act will ensure that veterans can access needed care and services outside of the Veterans Affairs Department when the closest facility does not offer that care. I was proud to support Senator Jerry Moran’s efforts to pass this important legislation. I am committed to working with my colleagues to provide our veterans with access to quality care because they deserve it.
This effort to fix the 40-mile criteria in the Choice Act has previously been supported by numerous organizations including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Vietnam Veterans of America, Concerned Veterans of America and the National Guard Association of the United States. It is also supported by health care organizations including the National Rural Health Association, the National Association of Rural Mental Health and the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors.
In February, 42 senators, including Senator Scott, called on VA Secretary Bob McDonald to simplify travel and access requirements for care for millions of veterans. The group of senators pointed to two concerns with the way the Choice Program was being implemented. First, the VA was not considering whether the VA facility available within 40 miles of where a veteran lives offers the care a veteran needs. Secondly, the VA was calculating the 40-mile distance “as the crow flies” and not by driving distance. The full text of the bipartisan letter to the Secretary is available HERE.
Although the VA made the decision in March to change the calculation used to determine the 40-mile distance to actual driving distance through regulatory action, they have not taken action on the issue of a VA facility being incapable of offering the care sought by the veteran.