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International Falls Journal: EDITORIAL: Change keeps our promise

A decision to expand access to health care for veterans living in rural areas is a huge leap in the right direction.

We expect it will make a difference in the lives of many Koochiching County veterans, as well as other veterans living in rural areas of northern Minnesota and across the nation.

Under the legislation passed in the wake of last year’s VA scandal, a provision was implemented to let veterans who live 40 miles or more from a VA facility to get care from qualified, non-VA providers.

Unfortunately, the 40-mile distance was interpreted as the crow flies, or in a straight line, rather than in driving distance. This failed to take into account the actual distance veterans have to travel to get care.

This week, the VA announced it will calculate eligibility for non-VA care to take into account the driving distance.

The change is expected to be made in the upcoming weeks and will allow many more veterans in Minnesota and across the country to become eligible for non-VA care.

Sen. Al Franken has been leading the push for the change and deserves credit for insisting the common sense change be made. Congressman Rick Nolan also deserves credit for calling attention to this concern.

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