New Rules Expand Veterans' Access To Private Care

The new rules reduced both the minimum wait time and minimum travel time that determine when veterans are eligible for private care at VA expense.

New Rules Expand Veterans' Access To Private Care
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Starting on Thursday, more veterans will be able to seek health care outside VA facilities.

That's thanks to a law President Donald Trump signed last year, and it fulfills one of his campaign promises. Under the new law, if veterans have to wait longer than 20 days or drive more than 30 minutes for primary or mental health care at a VA facility, the VA will pay for private care. The law previously required veterans to wait at least 30 days or drive more than 40 miles to qualify for private care.

The new rules will also let veterans visit non-VA urgent care clinics without prior approval, although they might still have to cover their own copays. 

VA officials have said the new rules could increase the number of veterans eligible for VA-sponsored private care from roughly 560,000 to as many as 2.1 million. 

Those numbers might worry critics, who say the new rules could hurt VA health care by leading more veterans to seek out pricier private care.