Trump Extends Private-sector Health Care Program for Veterans

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Tester's Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act cuts red tape for veterans seeking health care closer to home by making the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs the primary payer under the Choice Program, which will reduce out-of-pocket costs for veterans and align the Choice Program with the VA's other community care programs, according to a press release from the Democratic Montana senator's office. This bill will extend and improve the Veterans Choice Program so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice - you got it?

It allows veterans to access medical care from private doctors at private hospitals until the new Veterans Affairs Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin develops a long-term plan that could let vets sidestep the VA entirely.

Trump pledged to hold a news conference next week on "all of the tremendous things that are happening at the VA and what we've done in terms of progress and achievement".

The 2014 initiative ensures that US veterans do not have to wait long periods of time or drive long distances to get their healthcare needs from a provider and can opt instead to receive healthcare from a local provider. The bill, which passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate, eliminates a sunset provision in the VA Choice Program and allows continued care until funds for the program are used.

Shulkin has said that he will present to Congress this fall proposals to overhaul the Choice program to give veterans more options for private care and better integrate the VA with the private sector. Yet the program itself often encountered long wait times of its own.

Mark Lucas, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, commended Trump for upholding a campaign promise to make veterans a priority, but said more needed to be done.

Shulkin will talk about accomplishments with the program and what is ahead for veterans. "We will fight each and every day to deliver the long-awaited reforms our veterans deserve". At the same time, he wants the VA to work in partnership by handling all the scheduling and "customer service", something that congressional auditors say could be unwieldy and expensive.