House of Representatives Adopts Congressman Byrne’s Amendment on Veterans Administration Funding Bill
On April 29, 2015, the United States House of Representatives adopted Congressman Bradley Byrne’s amendment prohibiting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from moving money from a program that allows veterans to seek health care in the private sector.
The VA’s Veterans Choice Program, created in November of 2014, allows veterans who have been waiting for more than 30 days for care or who live more than 40 miles from a VA center to seek private care. Veterans are eligible to seek private care if any of the following situations apply:
· A Veteran has been told by his local VA medical facility that he or she will need to wait more than 30 days from the preferred date of treatment or the date medically determined by his or her physician.
· A Veteran’s current residence is more than 40 miles from the closest VA health care facility.
· A Veteran needs to travel by plane or boat to the VA medical facility closest to his or her home.
· A Veteran faces an unusual or excessive burden in traveling to a VA medical facility based on the presence of a body of water or a geologic formation that cannot be crossed by road.
Congressman Byrne, from Alabama, offered the amendment in response to VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s request that funding for the Choice Program be transferred to other accounts. Congressman Byrne stated, “I’m disappointed that the Secretary would already be giving up on this program while it is still in its infancy… It is even more frustrating considering one of the biggest obstacles to the program’s success is the VA’s own self-serving interpretation.”
In response to the limited access of the Program, Congressman Byrne has sponsored a bill, the Real Choice for Veterans Act, which would allow veterans to seek private care if the VA medical facility within the 40 mile range did not offer the service that they needed. The bill would also seek to codify that the 40 mile requirement be calculated by the actual driving distance, rather than the current 40 mile “straight line” interpretation. What a great show of support for our veterans!
If you are a disabled veteran who needs help navigating the VA disability appeal process or needs help evaluating the benefits you may be entitled to receive, call the experienced attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today at 251-343-1111 for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. serves veterans across the Gulf Coast, including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.