Arlington, VA — On Friday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) released a legislative solution to the Veteran Choice Program budget shortfall. The bill would create additional funds for the choice program which would be offset by continuing existing fees within other VA programs and reforming certain VA pensions.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“We fully support the House VA Committee’s bill to fix the budget shortfall within the Veteran Choice Program. Chairman Roe and his committee have put forward a practical solution that will address the problem quickly and in a fiscally responsible manner. This plan will ensure that the veterans who have been able to successfully use the choice program will not face any lapses in care due to the program running out of money in the coming weeks.
“We urge Congress to reject strawman arguments from defenders of the status quo who are using this moment to advance their anti-choice agenda instead of doing what’s best for veterans. There is no reason to tie fixing the Veteran Choice Program to other unnecessary spending increases, especially considering that a VA appropriations bill with a nearly two billion dollar budget is already in the works.
“This whole scenario underscores the need for a permanent choice reform that will remove the VA as the middleman standing between veterans and their health care. After the budget shortfall is addressed, legislators must work as quickly as possible to develop a solution that will give veterans real choice over where and when to see a doctor, inside or outside of the VA.”
The Veteran Choice Program, which was enacted under Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act, was intended as a temporary solution to the wait list scandal of 2014. The Program was flawed — allowing veterans to only receive care at VA-approved facilities if they meet the “30-day, 40-mile” rule, for example — and has been implemented poorly.
CVA has proposed the creation of a government-chartered non-profit to oversee the traditional VA medical system in addition to creating a veterans health insurance program that would offer all veterans at the VA the ability to access care in the private sector. These proposals would empower veterans to use these benefits at his or her own discretion – inside or outside of the VA.