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Published On: Sat, Apr 22nd, 2017

Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act signed into law

Earlier this week, Presedent Donald Trump signed into law the Veterans Choice Program Improvement ActThe legislation was cosponsored by Senators McCain, Jon Tester (D-MT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). It extends and improves the Veterans Choice Program.

2008 photo/Flicker photographer dsb nola

Senator McCain said the following in response to the President signing it into law:

“I am gratified that President Trump today signed into law legislation that eliminates the sunset date on the Veterans Choice Program and ensures veterans continue to have access to timely and convenient health care in their communities. In the wake of the terrible scandal in care at the Phoenix VA and VA hospitals around the country, we made a promise that our veterans would never again be forced to face unacceptable wait-times for appointments, or drive unreasonable distances, to get the care they need. This legislation ensures we keep that promise as we continue the hard work of fully reforming the VA and enhancing health care for all veterans.

“Since Congress passed legislation creating the Veterans Choice Program, more than a million veterans have made seven million appointments with hundreds of thousands of health care providers in their own communities using the Choice Card. This represents millions of appointments that would have otherwise lagged in the VA’s scheduling system for everything from routine check-ups and diagnostic tests to life saving heart and cancer treatment.

“As we mark the three year anniversary this month of the scandal in care at the VA, the enactment of the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act sends an important message that we will not send our veterans back to the status quo of unending wait-times for appointments and substandard care. We have a long way to go to fully reform veterans’ health care, but today’s legislation is an important first step in that effort.”

On April 3, 2017, the Senate unanimously passed the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act, legislation that would eliminate the August 7, 2017 sunset date of the Veterans Choice Program and allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to access all of the funding initially appropriated for the program until it is fully expended. The House unanimously passed the Senate legislation on April 5, 2017.

The legislation also authorizes the VA to be the primary payer under the Veterans Choice Program, reducing veterans’ out-of-pocket costs and aligning the Veterans Choice Program with the VA’s other community care programs. Further, the bill improves the sharing of medical records between the VA and community providers in the Veterans Choice Program to better coordinate care for veterans and connect them to timely care.

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  1. Kathryn Landfried says:

    I never had to use the VA before until Obamacare was enacted. My insurance premiums went sky high. I’ll just leave that right there. Had to start using the VA for my medical care. The last two years, I have had some really great experiences at my local VA in Waco, TX. I’ve had to use the Veteran’s choice program on a few occasions in the last year and I have received very timely and great quality medical care in my own community. I am very impressed at how efficient this program actually is and I want to thank all the doctors and staff at the Waco and Temple VA’s for doing a great job of caring for our Veterans!! Thanks to our legislators and President Trump for improving the Veteran’s Choice Program.

  2. Richard Gilmore says:

    Veterans Choice, not working in my case. Over five weeks ago was told I was eligible for this program in that my local VA could see me for about 60 days. After a week, checked on status, was told by Veterans Choice, that they have received no paperwork. Call SLC VA – told paperwork was sitting there and no one had forwarded it to Veterans Choice. After two more weeks, found out paperwork had been submitted but had an incorrect number on it so it was rejected. Told if I hadn’t called nothing would have been done under the current system. Finally after 5 weeks told by Veterans Choice individual that they had the paperwork and it would now take them 5 days to get an appointment for me. That was a week ago and still nothing. So here I sit in increasing pain waiting for someone to do their job. That is may experience todate with this program, hope other are having a better and less painful experience trying to get some care under this flawed system.

  3. Chris Anthon says:

    I’m a Vietnam vet. Because I live within 40 miles of the Naples, FL. clinic, I have to drive 180 miles round trip to have an xray. Currently, I need a biopsy done to determine if a growth is cancerous and to have this done I have to drive 360 miles round trip to have the biopsy done.
    I’ve spoken to several congressional staff members and they said that the law wasn’t clearly written.

  4. Bob says:

    Think again Senator who bought his way in . McCain no disrespect , well maybe just a little . You are a liar and you are “NO” Vietnam Hero.
    Think about the guys that served with you and under you that knows the truth about you .
    I will leave it right here McCain but remember once a liar always a liar.
    I am a proud member of the Vietnam Veterans of America served with pride , integrity and truth .

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