Currently, the VA’s Choice program — the best known and most used of the community care programs — is restricted to veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or face a wait of more than 30 days for VA services. The new programs will likely jettison those rules in favor of a looser set of guidelines, including language for veterans who face “an unusual or excessive burden” getting their care at VA facilities. Veterans groups have advocated for more flexibility for care options but also warned against abandoning the current Veterans Health Administration, a key safety net for millions of veterans across the country. A congressional hearing previewing the Mission Act implementation work was scheduled for early December but was postponed due to the death of former President George H.W. Bush. That has only added more mystery and urgency to the drafts under consideration by top VA officials.
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