President Donald Trump signed a bill that extends a program to allow veterans to seek medical care in the private sector and allow the bill to be paid for with their Veterans Administration benefits.
‶I've been telling all of our friends at speeches and rallies for two years about the VA, how we're going to turn it around, and we're doing that," the president said, according to the Military Times. "So this is called the Choice Program Improvement Act. It speaks for itself. This bill will extend and improve the Veterans Choice Program so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice -- you got it? The doctor of their choice -- and you don't have to wait and travel long distances for VA care."
The legislation Trump signed ‶eliminates the August 2017 expiration, streamlines the process between the VA and community providers, and reduces the burden on veterans and the community providers who serve them,″ said Republican Sen. Jerry Mora of Kansas in an opinion piece for the Fox News website.
‶We must never go back to the pre-scandal days where a VA bureaucrat had the final say as to where and when a veteran got their health care,″ Moran said. ‶We will continue working with our colleagues in the Senate and the new administration to follow through on our commitment to those who have borne the price of battle for our nation.″
The law is meant to help veterans facing long wait times or those who have to travel more than 40 miles to a VA clinic or hospital. Veterans will be able to choose from around 350,000 eligible community providers.
The law extends the program and allows the $950 million left in the program to be spent. The original program was set to expire on Aug. 7.
The new bill also covers co-pays and deductibles directly, rather than making veterans pay upfront and then reimbursing them later. Many had complained that the original bill meant those using other health care facilities had to pay cash and then claim it back from the VA.
‶The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long, and it's time that they're recognized, and it's time that we now take care of them, and take care of them properly,″ Trump said, according to a White House press release.
"We have a duty to make certain that no undue burden is placed on the veteran in accessing care," noted Moran. "Whether that veteran is in Hays, Kansas, and forced to drive more than 180 miles to get a shingles shot, or that veteran is in Phoenix, Arizona, waiting months to receive care at their local VA hospital, the needs of the veteran have to come first."