WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) applauded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decision to revise the 40-mile eligibility rule for the Veterans Choice Program by measuring the driving distance between a veteran's home and the nearest VA medical center, instead of the current "as the crow flies" definition. Senator Heinrich joined 41 of his colleagues last month in sending a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald to expand this eligibility criteria.
"Veterans in New Mexico — especially in rural parts of the state — have shared with me how difficult it can be to access the health care they need depending on where they live," said Sen. Heinrich. "I'm pleased that the VA will make this sensible change to ensure that our veterans, no matter where they live, will be able to get the very best health care services they deserve."
The VA announced that the policy change will be made through regulatory action in the coming weeks. The Veterans Choice Program was authorized by the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act, which Senator Heinrich supported to improve veteran's access to quality health care services and decrease wait times.