Tester’s veterans care legislation passes Congress

Senator Jon Tester released the following statement after legislation to allow veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility to access care closer to home passed the Senate by unanimous consent:

“Memorial Day weekend reminds us that we must never stop working to improve care for our nation’s veterans. Allowing veterans who need specialty care to go outside of the VA system for treatment is common sense. I’m glad all senators agreed that we need to fix this problem and ensure that veterans can more easily access the care they earned.”

In order to increase veterans’ access to care, Tester’s legislation clarifies that veterans cannot be excluded from the choice program and can seek care outside the VA if they live close to a VA facility that does not provide the specific treatment they seek. Currently, veterans who live within 40 miles of any VA facility are not eligible for the choice program.

The 40-mile rule was initially implemented as part of last summer’s VA reform bill. At Tester’s urging, the VA changed the meaning of the 40-mile eligibility requirement from “as the crow flies” to 40 miles in driving distance.

Tester’s legislation now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.