The Veterans Choice Program is a new temporary program to improve Veterans’ access to health care by allowing certain Veterans to elect to receive health care from eligible providers outside of VA. The program was established by section 101 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act).
Who is eligible for the program?
A Veteran must have been enrolled in VA health care on or before August 1, 2014, or be eligible to enroll as a combat Veteran. Additionally, a Veteran must also meet at least one of the following criteria:
The Veteran is told by his/her local VA medical facility that he/she will need to wait more than 30 days for an appointment from the date clinically determined by his/her physician or, if no such date is provided, the Veteran’s preferred date.
The Veteran’s residence is more than 40 miles driving distance from the closest VA medical facility.
The Veteran resides in a location, other than Guam, American Samoa, or the Republic of the Philippines, that is 40 miles or less from a VA medical facility and faces an unusual or excessive burden in traveling to a VA medical facility based on the presence of a body of water (including moving water and still water) or a geologic formation that cannot be crossed by road.
The Veteran resides in a State or a United States Territory without a full-service VA medical facility that provides hospital care, emergency services and surgical care having a surgical complexity of standard, and resides more than 20 miles from such a VA facility . NOTE: This criterion applies to Veterans residing in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also note that some Veterans in New Hampshire reside within 20 miles of White River Junction VAMC.
How do Veterans get care authorized and make an appointment?
Veterans must call the Choice Program Call Center at 866-606-8198 to verify eligibility and set up an appointment.
What is the Veterans Choice Card?
VA mailed all enrolled Veterans a Veterans Choice Card and information about the Choice Program. The Choice Card doesn’t replace the identification card Veterans already use to access other VA benefits. If a Veteran is satisfied and wishes to continue with his/her current VA care, there is nothing they need to do at this time. Veterans should save their Choice Cards in case they would like to use the Program in the future. If a Veteran can’t find his/her Choice Card, he/she can still call the Choice Program Call Center at 866-606-8198 for information.
What is the new expanded eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program?
VA expanded eligibility for the Choice Program by changing the method used to measure the distance between a Veteran’s residence and the nearest VA medical facility from a straight line distance to driving distance. Accordingly, Veterans who live more than 40 miles driving distance from the nearest facility are now eligible for the Program. Driving distance will also be used to determine eligibility under the other residence criteria, described above.
Who can help Veterans with questions I can’t answer? Warm handoff to:
Gainesville VAMC Patient Advocate:
Kimberly (Michelle) Howard
(352)-376-1611, Ext. 4210
Gainesville VAMC Choice Champion:
(352) 376-1611, Ext. 7031
Visit the Veterans Choice Program intranet page (http://vaww.va.gov/choice/) for in-depth training materials. Veterans can visit the external site (www.va.gov/opa/choiceact) for more information.