Trump signs bill to expand private care for veterans

President Donald Trump shows off the

PROMISE KEPT: Trump Signs VETERANS ACT to Expand Healthcare

Bill Cassidy, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. He emphasized how crucial it was for veterans to have choice within their medical care.

A proposal introduced by Sen.

"If we don't get on it we're going to have a hole of $10 billion in our approps", Shelby said Tuesday, predicting "some real trouble". Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"I was honored to attend this bipartisan bill signing ceremony with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and congressional leaders", said Speaker Cox via a press release.

The Trump administration is seeking to pay for recent expansion of Veterans Affairs to private health care through recently increased budgetary caps, according to an administration official. Aiming to keep those promises, veterans programs are one of the few areas aside from the military where Trump has encouraged new spending.

"The President's 2019 Budget supports a new, consolidated community care program for veterans and all of VA health care within the discretionary caps already in place". This law gives veterans, who previously could only get care from VA facilities, the opportunity to now see doctors in the private sector.

The VA Mission Act falls in line with the VA's organizational priorities related to health IT investments.

It could be a preview of spending fights to come, with the next government shutdown deadline looming on September 30, just ahead of the November midterm elections.

Veterans groups cheered the legislation as major step toward improving veterans care.

The measure builds on legislation passed in 2014 in response to a wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. Many local veterans say it's about time. Previously, comprehensive caregiver assistance and benefits were provided only to veterans injured on or after September 11, 2001, leaving family caregivers and veterans injured during World War II, the Korean, Vietnam and 1990-1991 Gulf War ineligible for this critical support. It will allow veterans to receive services from private providers, creates a stipend program for caregivers of disabled veterans from any conflict, puts a process in motion to streamline the VA itself and encourages doctor and other medical professionals to join the VA system. A 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation found that the Choice Program still yielded long wait times for patients, partly because of the complex process by which patients must be referred to non-VA providers. It was a key reason the president fired VA Secretary David Shulkin in March after the White House suspected that he was not pushing "choice" aggressively enough.




The legislation had the support of almost 40 major veterans groups, who in a letter before the bill passed the House described it as a "major step" toward the goal of ensuring timely and seamless health care for veterans.

Another sticking point is cost.

The VA system structure is now based on the way medical services were provided from the 1960s to the 1980s, he said. Experts generally agree that VA care is less costly due to economies of scale. "The VA MISSION Act gives certainty to our veterans, increasing benefits to our nation's heroes and expanding options to seek care outside of the VA", said Dunn, who sits on the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, on Thursday.

Caldwell said, however, that the White House is right to oppose lifting the budget caps to cover the Mission Act. "The decision of where you get your care will be, as it should be, between you, your doctor and the VA", he said.

"I think they can pay for this program without raising the caps", Caldwell said.

The goal of AIR is to help the VA become more nimble and better able to provide care for veterans, the congressman said.

"Although it is hard to quantify the risk of patient harm, the findings in this report may help facilities identify areas of vulnerability or conditions that, if properly addressed, could improve patient safety and health care quality", the report said.

He added, "You shouldn't have to ask Congress every year for money to take care of veterans". 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.

Story by Erica Werner and Lisa Rein.

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