The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adopts as final, with no change, an interim final rule revising its medical regulations that implement section 101 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, as amended, (hereafter referred to as “the Choice Act”), which requires VA to establish a program (hereafter referred to as the “Veterans Choice Program” or the “Program”) to furnish hospital care and medical services through eligible non-VA health care providers to eligible veterans who either cannot be seen within the wait-time goals of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or who qualify based on their place of residence or face an unusual or excessive burden in traveling to a VA medical facility. Those revisions contained in the interim final rule, which is now adopted as final, were required by amendments to the Choice Act made by the Construction Authorization and Choice Improvement Act of 2014, and by the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015. VA published an interim final rule on December 1, 2015, implementing those regulatory revisions, and we received seven public comments. This final rule responds to those public comments and does not make any further regulatory revisions.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its medical regulations by standardizing the delivery of care by VA health care providers through telehealth. This rule ensures that VA health care providers can offer the same level of care to all beneficiaries, irrespective of the State or location in a State of the VA health care provider or the beneficiary. This final rule achieves important Federal interests by increasing the availability of mental health, specialty, and general clinical care for all beneficiaries.