President Trump Signs Milestone Vet Medical Care Bill
Veterans groups applaud the bill being signed.
President Donald Trump signed an emergency spending bill that will put $2.1-B into a program that allows veterans to receive private medical care at government expense.
Trump, who made improving Veterans care a central campaign promise, signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act in New Jersey Saturday.
The bill, which addresses a budget shortfall at the Department of Veteran Affairs that threatened medical care for thousands of veterans, provides $2.1-B to continue funding the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to seek private care.
Another $1.8-B will go to core VA health programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities.
“Today is another milestone in our work to transform the VA where we’re doing record-setting business,” President Trump said.
The Choice program was put in place after a Y 2014 wait-time scandal that was discovered at the Phoenix VA hospital and spread throughout the country.
Some US Vets waited weeks or months for appointments while phony records covered up the lengthy waits during the Hussein Obama Admin.
The program allows veterans to receive care from outside doctors if they must wait at least 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility.
VA Secretary David Shulkin had warned that without legislative action, the Choice program would run out of money by mid-August, causing delays in health care for thousands of veterans.
The bill will extend the program for 6 months. Costs will be paid for by trimming pensions for some Medicaid-eligible veterans and collecting fees for housing loans.
Veterans groups applauded the bill being signed: “We’re grateful President Trump is taking decisive action to ensure veterans using the Choice Program won’t see lapses in their care due to a lack of funding,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director for Concerned Veterans for America. “Unfortunately, this bill took far too long to get to the president’s desk and is $1.8-B more expensive than it needed to be.”
During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump criticized the VA for long wait times and mismanagement, saying he would give veterans more options in seeing outside providers.
Mr. Shulkin announced the budget shortfall last month, citing unexpected demand from veterans for private care and poor budget planning. To slow spending, the department last month instructed VA medical centers to limit the number of veterans it sent to private doctors.
Currently, more than 30% of VA appointments are in the private sector, up from fewer than 20% in Y 2014, under then President Barack Hussein Obama, the VA has an annual budget of about $180-B.
Have a terrific weekend.