The Department of Veterans Affairs today announced its proposed access standards for the new Veterans Community Care Program to begin in June under the AHA-supported MISSION Act of 2018. VA said the access standards, to be published in the Federal Register, will be based on average drive time and appointment wait times. Eligible veterans who cannot access care within those standards would be able to choose between eligible community providers and care at a VA medical facility.
Specifically, the agency proposes:
- a 30-minute average drive time standard for primary care, mental health and non-institutional extended care services;
- a 60-minute average drive time standard for specialty care; and
- appointment wait-time standards of 20 days for primary care, mental health care and non-institutional extended care services; and 28 days for specialty care from the date of request with certain exceptions.
“Strict and confusing qualification criteria like driving distances and proximity to VA facilities that don’t offer needed services will be replaced by eligibility guidelines based on what matters most: the convenience of our veteran customers,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.