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Choice Program Extension Is Only A Stopgap Measure

By Concerned Veterans for America

Veterans Should Be Empowered With Real Health Care Choice

Arlington, VA – Today the House of Representatives voted to re-authorize the Veterans Choice Program, a program created in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wait list manipulation scandal in 2014. The measure has already been approved by the Senate and will now be sent to the President’s desk.

The program was poorly implemented and has not offered the veterans who qualify for it the real choice that the creators of the program envisioned. The “40-mile, 30-day” rule means that, in theory, veterans can only seek care outside the VA if they can’t be seen within a month of when they request an appointment or if they can’t be seen within a 40-mile radius. Even then, many veterans still have to jump through many bureaucratic hoops to actually access the program.

Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:

“President Trump should sign this measure to extend the Veterans Choice Program, but only with the recognition that this bill does not offer veterans real health care choice and that more permanent solutions are needed quickly. The re-authorization of the Veterans Choice Program will buy Congress some time to pursue larger VA reforms that truly empower veterans with the ability to choose where and when to see a doctor. Continuing the Veterans Choice Program is the better alternative to eliminating it, but only for now.”

In the Fixing Veterans Health Care Task Force, CVA proposes the creation of a government-chartered non-profit and veterans insurance program to oversee the distribution of health care to veterans. In this new model, veterans would be fully empowered to decide where and when to seek care outside of the VA.

President Trump and VA Secretary Shulkin have both expressed the need to give veterans more choice over their health care. President Trump included choice as part of his 10-point plan to fix the VA while he was on the campaign trail last year. Secretary Shulkin recently included enacting “Choice 2.0” as one of his top ten priorities for fixing the VA.