The Obama administration is looking to cut back on a brand new program, only six months old, that allows veterans to find health insurance outside of the government-run Veterans Affairs system.
In August 2014, Congress, then controlled by Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House, passed a bill creating the Veterans Choice Program, an attempt to get health care to veterans quicker than under the VA system, which was plagued with corruption and scandal. At the time, President Obama supported the legislation and signed it into law.
Now, the President is doubling down on his support and plans on creating another piece of legislation to scale the program back. According to Obama's just-released 2016 budget, "In the coming months, the administration will submit legislation to reallocate a portion of Veterans Choice Program funding to support essential investments in VA system priorities in a fiscally-responsible, budget-neutral manner."
In a show of bipartisanship, Republican VA Secretary Robert McDonald said he would support the President's change of course in order to "serve veterans the way they want and deserve to be served."
However, not all Republicans were willing to back this position. Florida Republican Jeff Miller and Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson both believed the President was breaking his word to members of Congress, who he worked with on the bill, and veterans, who he promised would receive better health care.
Part of Obama's new plan for the money meant for the Veterans Choice Program, earmarked at $15 billion, will go to other VA programs that need extra funding. One senior VA official stated that interest in the new program "has not been as high as anticipated."
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