The Veterans Choice Program originated in response to the VA wait time scandal during which VA leaders falsified wait times.
Since it was enacted, the Choice Act has proved to be problematic and today, even though vets can see VA approved private sector doctors, they are still waiting a long time to get access to the healthcare they need. It also expands stipends for a popular program that pays family caregivers of veterans who served in Vietnam and later wars, for example, a priority for advocates.
"On the anniversary of D-Day, we're reminded of the sacrifices of our courageous veterans and that we owe our service members a debt that can never be repaid". Where the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 gave eligible veterans several limited options in how they could access healthcare either in the VA or the private sector with VA authorization, the newly ratified VA Mission Act will further empower them by removing the pre-authorization requirement and allowing for access to "walk in" care. "Creditors are calling them, they want their money".
"Veterans deserve access to a safe and reliable health care program", Mr. Shelby said.
The VA MISSION Act was passed by both houses of Congress earlier this year, fulfilling a key campaign promise by the President who repeatedly pledged to allow U.S. veterans the right to access healthcare from non-VA operated hospitals. "I'm proud the House Committee on Veterans Affairs advanced Dr. Dunn's legislation to allow for the greater sharing of information between VA and state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, and I'm grateful for his continued work on this issue". Of that, $73.1 billion would go toward health care services for veterans.
Many veterans have moved from the Northeast to other parts of the country. Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee's ranking Democrat, described a "stark picture of a VA forced to cannibalize itself in order to pay for private care", with potential funding cuts to investments in buildings, direct patient care, suicide prevention, medical research and job training. It also gets rid of restrictions limiting private and community care to veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or have to wait more than 30 days for an appointment. The care will be judged by its timeliness, effectiveness, safety, and efficiency.
It's expected to take another year before a new single program is up and running.
Phillip Carter, a senior researcher at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit think tank, said the bill creates another unanswered question on cost: It could push up the demand for medical care at VA hospitals as the pressure on them eases with more outside appointments. From Veterans not receiving care, to providers not receiving reimbursement for the care provided, the shortfalls and red-tape of the Choice Program have been problematic for years.
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