Within the last couple of months, the Department of Veterans Affairs under the provisions of a new law initiated a major shift in policy. Now a substantially larger portion of the nine million VA health care enrollees will be allowed to receive private care treatment outside of traditional VA hospitals.
Under this new policy, veterans facing a wait time at their nearest VA healthcare center of 20 days or more can now turn to private care. The VA has set a goal of 14 days by next year.
Previously, the wait time before turning to private health care providers was 30 days.
This new plan will greatly expand private-sector medical care for veterans in rural areas where VA health care centers can be some distance away and for veterans in urban areas where demand oftentimes overwhelms the capacity of VA facilities. Veterans also will be allowed to use a multitude of walk-in clinics.
More than a million and a half veterans used private care in one form or another in fiscal year 2018 (the latest data available). VA projections say that number could increase by as much as 30% under the new law.