Stock photo provided by The American Legion National Headquarters.

Stock photo provided by The American Legion National Headquarters.

The American Legion Wants The Department Of Veterans Affairs To Stop Sending Its Patients To Medical Facilities That Can’t Help Them.

Under VA’s Choice Card program, veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA facility can use the cards to get treatment from private-sector health care. But if a VA medical facility is less than 40 miles away, regardless of whether it can provide the proper treatment, veterans don’t qualify for the program.

“This arrangement is another unfortunate example of how the VA trips itself up over details,” American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm said. “In its zeal to follow the 40-mile rule, VA is making it more difficult – not less – for some veterans to get the care they need.”

Helm said VA demonstrated common sense by changing the measurement of its 40-mile rule from “as the crow flies” to actual driving distance.

VA needs to demonstrate more common sense, Helm said, by making sure its Choice Card program sends veterans to facilities where they can be treated effectively. “Why is VA so hard and fast on this 40-mile rule? It is not in the spirit of the VA reform law, which was passed to make health care more accessible to our veterans, not less.”

In a fact sheet issued March 24, VA stated that “absent a statutory change,” to the Choice Card program, it had to continue sending some veterans to facilities that cannot provide the care they need. “VA does not believe that it has the flexibility to adopt an alternative approach.”

Helm said the explanation was specious and without merit. “VA doesn’t need the blessing of Congress to give our veterans the medical care they need. If he wanted to, Secretary McDonald could fix the problem today. That’s when The American Legion would like to see him fix it – today.”