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VA Sunshine Healthcare Network


Choosing Your Preferred Health Care Facility


Designating Primary Health Care Services
for Eligible Veterans in VISN 8



A Veteran has the right to designate his/her "preferred facility" where they want to receive the majority of their primary care services. For health reasons, VA Primary Care services are best delivered at the VA facility closest to the Veteran’s home where the patient is enrolled for care. The assigned Primary Care team is responsible for coordinating all of the patient’s healthcare needs, including Specialty Services (such as cardiology, optometry, audiology, dermatology, orthopedics, etc.) available within the patient’s assigned healthcare system.

The Veterans Integrated Service Network 8 ("VISN 8") has more than 60 medical facilities patients can choose from to receive care. These facilities are grouped geographically into healthcare systems to ensure appropriate access to care throughout Florida, South Georgia and the Caribbean. Within each healthcare system is a major hospital and outpatient clinics. In VISN 8, the North Florida/South Georgia healthcare system is the exception with two hospitals plus outpatient clinics. To locate the facilities nearest you, click here to check the VISN 8 map. 

To ensure continuity of care, patients must obtain Specialty Care services at the nearest location within their assigned healthcare system. For example, if a patient who receives his care at the Leesburg Community Based Outpatient Clinic needs dermatology services, his Primary Care Provider (PCP) will refer him to that CBOC’s parent facility, the Orlando VA Medical Center.

Please note there are exceptions to this policy.

Certain specialty services may not be readily available within the assigned healthcare system’s primary service area or there may be a delay in receiving such care. Such is the case with the Orlando VA which was activated as a stand-alone healthcare system on October 1, 2009. A new Orlando VA Medical Center is planned with an estimated completion date of 2015. Until that time, patients enrolled in the Orlando VA healthcare system may obtain their specialty care at the James A. Haley VA Hospital or the North Florida/South Georgia VA medical facilities. A veteran’s PCP will make this specialty care consulation and referral.

VISN 8 continues to improve access to care by establishing new community based-outpatient clinics and multi-specialty outpatient clinics.

A patient can change their preferred facility at any time by contacting the Enrollment Coordinator or Health Benefits Advisor at their VA health care facility. Please note that VHA’s current beneficiary travel program only allows for mileage reimbursement to the nearest facility which offers that care for eligible Veterans.

Eligible veterans with additional questions should contact their Primary Care Provider.

About the Veterans CHOICE Program

Many Veterans will now have the option to receive non-VA health care rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility.

Beginning November 5, 2014, the new Choice Program began to cover non-VA care for eligible Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare. Veterans are eligible if any of these situations apply to you:

  • You have been told by your local VA medical facility that you will need to wait more than 30 days from your preferred date or the date medically determined by your physician
  • Your current residence is more than 40 miles from the closest VA health care facility
  • You need to travel by plane or boat to the VA medical facility closest to your home
  • You face a geographic challenge, such as extensive distances around water or other geologic formations, such as mountains, which presents a significant travel hardship

Every Veteran will receive a letter and a Choice Card in the mail with details about the program. Veterans will be eligible for the program and receive cards in three phases:

  • Veterans who may live more than 40 miles from a VA facility.
  • Veterans who are currently waiting for an appointment longer than 30 days from their preferred date or the date determined to be medically necessary by their physician.
  • All remaining Veterans enrolled for VA healthcare who may be eligible for the Choice Program in the future.
  • To set up an appointment with a non-VA provider, call the VA at 866-606-8198 and we will work with you to ensure you are approved for care in your community.

    For more information on the CHOICE program, click here