Friday, 17 August, 2018

Trump Signs Bill To Expand Private Care At Troubled VA

President Donald Trump at a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville Tenn President Donald Trump at a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville Tenn
Gustavo Carr | 09 June, 2018, 12:57

Access to medical care for U.S veterans has been an important issue in Washington since 2014. Access to health care will be greatly expanded thanks to a bipartisan bill signed by President Trump.

The Act will provide $5.2 billion to extend the Veterans Choice Program for one year while it's being overhauled.

"I compared it to putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound", said Burch.

The legislation would also expand a caregivers program to cover families of veterans of all eras, not just those injured in the line of duty since 2001.

Conservatives, including close Trump allies, publicly slammed the spending package and criticized Trump for signing it, and the administration has subsequently dug in against new spending and worked to claw existing spending back. The deal broke through previous spending caps with huge increases in domestic spending Democrats demanded in exchange for military spending sought by Republicans. Perhaps the most compelling provision is the authority the VA Secretary will be given to launch pilot programs through a newly established VA Center for Innovation for Care and Payment. "This is a truly meaningful victory for our nation's veterans, who will benefit from more choice and fewer barriers to care".

"So it's now my great honor to sign the great VA Mission Act, or as we all know it, the Choice Act".

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There also is little evidence that providing private care to veterans compared with treatment at one of VA's 1,300 clinics and hospitals will be "less expensive".

Pointing to faulty data, government investigators said the VA "cannot determine whether the Choice program has helped to achieve the goal of alleviating veterans' wait times for care". "The decision of where you get your care will be, as it should be, between you, your doctor and the VA", he said. "But it is not the most cost effective way to take care of our veterans".

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 United States veterans the right to access healthcare from non-VA operated hospitals. Currently, more than 30 percent of VA appointments are in the private sector.

He added, "You shouldn't have to ask Congress every year for money to take care of veterans". This ambitious legislation will also set new standards in how providers are paid, provide continuing medical education for non-VA medical professionals, improve opioid prescribing practices, and sanction a VA asset and infrastructure review that will force legislators to contemplate the closure of costly, underused facilities in their districts.

Story by Erica Werner and Lisa Rein.