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Congressman Ralph Abraham

Representing the 5th District of Louisiana

Veterans' agency changes mileage calculations for vets to access government funded private medical care

March 25, 2015
In The News

WASHINGTON -- Bowing to congressional pressure, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has agreed to change the calculation used to determine if a veterans lives far enough away from a VA health facility to qualify for federally funded private health care.

Previously, the agency had used a straight line measurement to determine if the nearest VA facility was located within 40 miles from a veteran's home. But now the agency will calculate eligibility via driving distance.

Reps. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, and Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, applauded the move, though both say more needs to be done.

"The change to this program will directly benefit veterans in rural areas because it will expand the number of health care facilities where they can receive treatment," Abraham said. "Today's announcement is a good first step in making sure the Veterans Choice Program is working for those who need it most. No veteran should be forced to drive hundreds of miles just to see a doctor."

"While I am encouraged by the announced changes to the Veterans Choice Program, it doesn't go as far as it needs to go," said Abraham, a member of the House Veterans Committee. "We must ensure those in the VA system have access to adequate care facilities that can provide the specific services the veteran may need. Further expanding the facility options for the veteran can go a long way in making sure our heroes get the care they need."

To read the full article, click here.