Trump extends private-sector health care program for veterans

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 20, 2017

The bill signed by President Trump Wednesday extends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 past the original sunset date of August 2017.

President Donald Trump has signed a bill extending a program that lets some veterans seek medical care in the private sector.

"The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long, and it's time that they are recognized, and it's time that we now take care of them and take care of them properly", Mr. Trump said.

Shulkin said he is asking Congress for authority to give veterans more choice for private care in cases where the VA is falling short "or isn't doing as well".

"Without a detailed schedule, VA risks not having new systems aligned with potential changes in the appeals process when they are implemented", the GAO said. Those groups generally oppose privatization as a threat to the viability of VA medical centers.

"My father served in WWII and I proudly served in the United States Navy, and I appreciate President Trump's commitment to our military and our veterans".

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who was on hand for the signing, called it "a good day for veterans".

"One of the more prevalent and frustrating stories we hear over and over is a caregiver's inability to prove the monotonous duties they take on caring for loved ones with mental and emotional wounds", said Steve Schwab, executive director of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, which advocates for caregiver support. "By working together we're going to continue this progress". But bureaucratic problems have prevented many veterans from using the program. While the VA proposed new IT systems, the GAO said that the VA lacks a plan for how and when the new system will be implemented. But when it comes to our veterans, all Americans believe that our nation's heroes deserve the best possible health care when they separate from duty. 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.

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