V-A to ease 40-mile rule
A rule change will now allow twice as many veterans to become eligible for a new V-A program, providing much-needed flexibility in how they access healthcare. At our strong and consistent urging, the Department of Veterans Affairs is relaxing eligibility in its new Choice Program, which allows qualified veterans to receive health care outside of V-A facilities if they live more than 40 away from the closest V-A facility, or have wait times of more than 30 days to see a V-A physician.
Driving distance, as opposed to straight-line distance, will now be the determining factor in calculating the 40-mile rule. In many areas of Virginia, this straight-line approach failed to accurately reflect driving distances over mountains or bodies of water. The 40-mile rule has been a source of great frustration among veterans, and I am pleased we’ve successfully pushed the V-A to reconsider and change the way it’s been implemented.
You have my pledge that our office will continue to stay on top of efforts to improve the V-A so that our veterans receive the care they have earned.
Our ship has come in
Virginia has received outstanding news from the U.S. Navy : the Navy will position its newest aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald Ford, at Naval Station Norfolk for at least the next five years. Additionally, the Navy has decided to reverse its earlier decision to mothball its base at Little Creek, and will maintain it as a deep water amphibious port and homeport of four amphibious ships through 2020.
This is tremendously good news for our nation’s military, and a strong validation of Virginia’s historic partnership with the Navy. These important commitments will create and maintain thousands of private-sector jobs here in Virginia. While Congress has more work to do to reverse another round of mindless, across-the-board sequester spending cuts, this announcement is very welcome news for the Navy and the entire region.
IRS fairness for firefighters, deputy sheriffs:
At the request of Virginia sheriffs and many local firefighters, our office has successfully pushed the Internal Revenue Service to make a change: firefighters and police officers will no longer be expected to pay income taxes on common clothing items they are required to wear while on duty.
Last year, Botetourt County, Va., was audited by the IRS and found to owe $91,000 in back taxes, stemming in part from an IRS finding that the locality made a mistake in not taxing deputies for the value of certain common clothing items that are part of their uniforms. In January, our office contacted the IRS seeking clarification on this odd tax treatment for first responders.
I am very pleased that the IRS now has clarified its policy. Our firefighters and police officers can stop worrying about getting taxed for their clothing and concentrate on what they do best: keeping us safe. "