U.S. Senator Jerry Moran fielded questions about health care for veterans and the Veterans Choice Program during a town hall Thursday at the American AgCredit in Great Bend.
Veterans can use the program to receive medical care in their communities rather than traveling to a VA hospital, as long as they meet certain guidelines, Moran said.
“Something I want your help with is for the people that have served our country and to make sure they receive the care that they deserve,” Moran said. “Access to VA facilities has been a challenge for so many in rural Kansas and other veterans around the country. So we rallied Congress to a cause that was successful. This cause was the Choice Program.”
This program is available to veterans if they can’t schedule their appointment within 30 days of the clinically indicated date or if no such date can be determined, if they reside more than 40 miles from the closest VA medical facility with a full-time primary physician, if they have to travel by air, boat, or ferry, and if they are faced with an excessive burden due to traveling to the closest VA medical facility based on geographic challenges, environmental factors, or a medical condition. The program allows those veterans to receive health care within their community. Using this program does not impact their existing VA health care, or any other VA benefit.
“In my view VA was reluctant to support this program and tried to slow it or delay it, but we think it is getting better,” Moran said. “I don’t know a veteran in rural Kansas that wouldn’t like to be taken care of at their local hospital under certain conditions. If you are a veteran or know of a veteran that might not know about this program or they are having issues with it, let us know. That way we can help them get through it.”
On April 19 President Donald Trump signed a law that removed the Aug. 7, expiration date and allows VA to utilize funding dedicated to the Veterans Choice Program until it is exhausted. The VCP is a critical program that increases access to care for veterans by authorizing millions of appointments for them in the community.
Thursday’s town hall meeting has been Moran’s 1,228th since he has been in Congress.
“Congress is out of session until Labor Day and I like to spend my time through August having these town hall meetings across Kansas and taking the time with you,” Moran said.”We try to have one in every county and listen to the people.”