How do you get a government agency to fix a rule that isn’t working? Simple. Get Jon Stewart to do a funny, but factually accurate, segment that highlights the flaw and, bingo, less then 24 hours situation remedied.
On Monday night Jon mocked the Veterans Administration’s Choice Program which was put in place to speed up medical care for veterans who lived far from a VA facility. The problem was that to be eligible the vet must live forty miles from the nearest facility. The rule was worded like that to keep down the cost of the program. But that distance was measured by “as the crow flies,” because, as Jon put it, “that is the least-meaningful way to judge how hard it is to get somewhere for non-crows.”
Then low and behold, less than 24 hours later the VA announced that they were “relaxing the rule” that made it difficult for veterans living in rural areas to prove they live 40 miles from the nearest VA facility.
The change comes amid complaints from lawmakers and advocates who say the VA’s current policy has prevented thousands of veterans from taking advantage of a new law intended to allow veterans in remote areas to gain access to federally paid medical care from local doctors. [..]
The VA said it will now measure the 40-mile trip by driving miles as calculated by Google maps or other sites, rather than as the crow flies, as currently interpreted. The rule change is expected to roughly double the number of eligible veterans. [..]
Under the new interpretation, the distance veterans must travel will be calculated through commercial products such as Google maps or other websites, rather than a straight line.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., hailed the rule change but said it did not go far enough. The VA policy applies to any VA medical facility within 40 miles of a veteran’s home, even if the veteran needs specialized care that is farther away.
While this change will help a good many veterans, congress still will need to tweak the program for those requiring special care.
Thank you, Jon, for your “damning piece of investigative joke-a-lism.” We will miss you when you’re gone.