VA proposes changes to Choice Program criteria: 4 things to know

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed the Veterans Coordinated Access & Rewarding Experiences Act.

Here are four things to know.

1. The VA presented a draft proposal of the legislation to the House and Senate VA committees Monday.

2. The bill would replace provisions of the Choice Program, which pays for veterans to see private providers not associated with the VA. Veterans are currently eligible for the program if their wait times are longer than 30 days or they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility.

3. Under the bill, the current Choice Program criteria would be replaced with criteria that "place the veteran and his or her physician at the center of the decision process on how and where to get the best care available," VA officials said via news release. They added the new criteria would also "ensure VA is improving medical facilities and staffing levels to meet veterans' needs in areas where VA care is substandard" as well as "offer options for veterans to use a network of walk-in clinics for minor illnesses and injuries."

4. VA officials said the legislation also includes proposals for new workforce tools for medical staff, along with provisions related to bolstering the agency's ability to partner with other federal agencies and streamlining its real property management authorities.

Leo Vartorella contributed to this report.


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