New rules for the Department of Veterans Affairs do little to eliminate “arbitrary” restrictions on access to private care, according to veterans groups.
Under the new rules, veterans are eligible for private primary care after 20 days instead of 30, and if they are further than a 30-minute drive from a VA healthcare facility for primary care, or a 60-minute drive for specialty care.
“Twenty days is just as arbitrary as 30 days,” Bob Wallace, the executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars, told Talking Points Memo on Friday.
“This is doubling down on the administrative rules such as drive times and wait times,” said former VA secretary David Shulkin. “I was in favor of a system that was clinically based, that put veterans’ needs first and allowed the right match of services. This is just changing and loosening the administrative rules.”
“None of this should be a surprise to anybody: President Trump has made it clear from pretty much the moment he started running he wanted full choice,” added Dan Caldwell, Concerned Veterans for America’s executive director. “This does get us closer to full choice. That’s the model we want to get to.”
“They just didn’t provide a whole lot of answers to questions about the impact,” said Carl Blake, executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “The fact is it’s going to open up eligibility. It’s debatable whether there are adequate resources to do so. What won’t be acceptable is for them to take money from other programs in the VA to pay for it.”
A spokesperson for the VA declined to comment to Talking Points Memo.