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Choice Funding Fix Imperfect, Broader Reform Still Needed

By Concerned Veterans for America

Arlington, VA – Today, a deal was reached to continue funding the Veteran Choice Program through a $3.9 billion emergency spending package. The program was facing a budget shortfall.

Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Executive Director Mark Lucas issued the following statement:

“If this new deal holds, veterans who have been able to use the Veteran Choice Program won’t see lapses in their care – but this solution is far from perfect. It’s encouraging that the measure includes some commonsense budget offsets and changes in the hiring procedures for the VA, which are cumbersome and bureaucratic. However, coupling this choice funding with new leases for medical centers is a mistake without a more thorough review of the VA’s capital asset needs. Some of these leases may very well be needed, but authorizing them at this time could lead to wasted resources that could otherwise be used to better serve veterans. At the outset, Secretary Shulkin simply should have been granted the authority to shift existing VA funds into the Veteran Choice Program.

“Throughout this process, some organizations and lawmakers were spreading misinformation about the various proposals to fix the funding shortfall and were not acting in good faith. By engaging in this behavior, those lawmakers and organizations threatened the ability of millions of veterans to retain access to critical care.

“In upcoming months, it is critical that Congress pass reforms to the VA health care system which let veterans get the care they need, when they need it. We will continue working to help establish a program that allows every veteran who uses the VA to access care outside of the VA at their own discretion. We will also remember who stood up for veterans at this critical moment and we will not hesitate to hold members of Congress accountable for their actions.”