It’s was interesting to learn that the VA symbolically viewed veterans living outside their 40-mile inner circle as common crows (not even as ravens). Crows in folklore are bad omens, harbingers of evil, and doers of mischief. In nature, crows are loud scavengers and pests. Things changed in April when, under duress, reputations were reformed and distant veterans became just veterans and officially non-crows by the VA.
As we know, the VA adjusted it’s mileage rule on 4/24/15: Driving Distance Eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program. The Act is still being misinterpreted because while veterans no longer are required to fly in a straight line for care, they still may not be able to access the category of health care they actually NEED. Such as care from a specialist because if there is any manner of VA primary care-only-clinic within 40-miles of her home, that vet may still be denied an appointment with a non-VA provider. There may be exceptions in an emergency.
I don’t believe that even the nincompoops in Congress wanted this outcome. A new rule is needed to address this extreme folly, one that is “…is more beneficial to veterans.”
If you would like to leave a public comment for our favorite governmental agency, all non-crows, with their secret powers, can caw, peck or scratch out a message at Regulations.gov here (LINK) about what needs to be done next. The previous rationale for their distance policy is available if you scroll down. Only about 19 public comments have been received so far. Your influence counts.
I recently inquired about using the choice card since my home is over 40 miles from the nearest VA hospital and the VA no longer considers veterans as “crows”. The new rule now considers the distance to the VA as actual mileage in a vehicle vs as a crow flies. I was told by the representative that lived within 7 miles of a CBOC and that is where I need to go for treatment. After advising the representative that I see two different specialist for my service connected disabilities and the CBOC does not have a cardiologist or a neurologist, I was .advised that she was told that a veteran who lives below the within the 40 mile distance must see a CBOC. You know what, that tells me the VA hasn’t really changed ANYTHING!
Basically the only way to get this changed is to email Sec. MacDonald, your senators and
representatives, and leave a comment. Maybe email your local TV news. I know that
Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins has been working on this. Here’s one example from her website:
Protecting Rural Health Care for Veterans: Senator Collins successfully convinced the Department of Veterans Affairs to overturn its decision to close the Bingham Mobile Medical Unit while it conducts a study to determine a long-term healthcare solution for veterans in Central Maine.
With Senator Collins’ support, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that veterans in northern Maine will be able to access care at Cary Medical Center in Caribou through a pilot program known as Project ARCH. Under the program, veterans in Aroostook County are able to receive primary care, secondary care, or acute care closer to home instead of being forced to travel hundreds of miles.
She earns her pay and our respect.
Oh gosh, let the powerful know with a comment about where you want to go due to the issues outlined!
If you are housebound and blind and live 39 miles from the VA I guess you are out of luck. I am about unable to walk and am housebound but I only live 20 miles through dense and dangerous traffic from my local VAMC. Why I could drive there blindfolded and I often do. So far I have only run over 25 little old ladies, ten dogs and a guy claiming to be a disabled vet by the side of the road. My driving ain’t too good since I am full of VA pills and sometimes mistake my wife for a Buick.