VA releases new rules for private sector care: 4 things to know

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a new proposal Jan. 30 detailing the circumstances under which veterans could receive care from private medical facilities instead of those run by the department, The Hill reports.

Four things to know:

1. The proposal aims to implement the $55 billion VA Mission Act, which Congress passed in June 2018. The final rules are expected to be published in June.

"Most Americans can already choose the healthcare providers that they trust, and President Trump promised that veterans would be able to do the same," VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement Jan. 30. "With VA's new access standards, the future of the VA healthcare system will lie in the hands of veterans — exactly where it should be."

2. Under the new rules, veterans will be able to see private physicians for primary care or mental healthcare if they live at least 30 minutes away from a VA facility or have to wait more than 20 days for care. The previous rules stipulated veterans could only receive private care if they lived 40 miles away from a VA facility or had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment.

3. The new proposal also allows veterans to visit urgent care facilities independent of the VA system, but those facilities must be part of a forthcoming network of community providers. Those visits would require a copay, but the bulk of the cost would be covered by the VA department, according to the report.

4. Critics suggest allowing more opportunities to seek out private care would drain resources from improving the VA healthcare system itself, and may eventually lead to full privatization, the report states. Some veterans groups and lawmakers also claim they were not consulted to help craft the new rules.

To access the full report, click here.

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