VA expands access to private care for veterans

New rules will allow some veterans to access private healthcare paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to USA Today.

Up to 2.1 million veterans could gain access to private care under the rules, compared to the current number of 560,000. The VA will cover private healthcare services for veterans if they must wait over 20 days or drive longer than 30 minutes for care at a VA facility. They can also access private specialty care covered by the agency if they need to wait over 28 days or drive longer than an hour to see a VA provider.

The new rules come from President Donald Trump's VA Mission Act, which he signed last June. The law aims to increase veterans' healthcare options and comes after numerous reports of long wait times and poor care quality at VA facilities.

Certain veterans' groups fear the rules will privatize the VA healthcare agency and deprive it of money, according to Others question the new rules' criteria for accessing private care, some of which are not fully developed yet.

VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said the agency does not expect to see a significant increase in the amount of non-VA care it covers. "Eligibility for community care is not the same as actually opting for community care," he told USA Today. "Veterans like the care VA offers, and eligible veterans will always have the choice to receive internal VA care or to receive community care."

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