VA intends to pause community care program during coronavirus pandemic

A Department of Veterans Affairs doctor speaks with a patient in this undated file photo. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
A Department of Veterans Affairs doctor speaks with a patient in this undated file photo. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

VA intends to pause community care program during coronavirus pandemic

by Nikki Wentling
Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to pause its community care program for 90 days in order to free space across private health care systems for coronavirus patients and prevent veterans’ exposure.

The department will stop automatically sending veterans outside of the VA for non-urgent and routine appointments. In an email to members of Congress on Tuesday night, officials said the VA will review appointment requests on a case-by-case basis and determine whether to refer veterans to private doctors. The VA will continue to refer veterans to the community for urgent medical needs “when necessary.”

The VA’s community care program sends veterans to private-sector doctors in certain cases, including when veterans must wait longer than 20 days for an appointment or drive more than 30 minutes to reach their VA health care provider. Those standards were put into effect last year under the VA Mission Act, a measure President Donald Trump touted as recently as Monday.

The VA intends to ignore those standards for the next 90 days or until routine care can safely resume.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.623679

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