The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 that Veterans care at a private medical care facility will now be paid for by the government if:

(1) the veteran had to wait more than thirty (30) days for an appointment; or
(2) the veteran lives more than forty (40) miles from a VA facility.

Why is the rule revised? This revision to the Veterans Affairs rule was prompted by complaints that the department’s eligibility requirements were too strict and kept many of veterans from qualifying for Veterans Choice, a program that allows veterans to obtain health care from private providers if they live far from a VA medical center or waited more than 30 days for treatment.

How is the 40 miles measured? The old guidelines required a veterans to reside at least 40 miles in a straight shot, or “as the crow flies,” from the nearest VA clinic. The new guidelines aim to take a more practical approach and will instead measure the forty miles in actual driving mile distance, as calculated by common online mapping services such as Google Maps and Mapquest.

What about specialized care? While some see this revision as a positive change, others believe there will still be many challenges for veterans who live on or close to the forty mile marker. Additionally, the this revision does not address the needs of veterans who live less than 40 miles from a VA clinic but require specialized care that the VA facility cannot provide.