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CVA Statement on Solution to Choice Program

By Concerned Veterans for America

Arlington, VA —  This week Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Shulkin testified before the Senate that funding for the Veteran Choice Program will likely run out later this year, much sooner than originally expected.

When President Trump reauthorized the Choice Program earlier this year, there were changes made to the program – in particular, making the VA the primary payor for care – which may have led to significantly increased spending. In addition, the increased referrals to the program have been larger than anticipated.

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

“Elected officials should quickly pass legislation that will allow the VA to move existing funds to the Veteran Choice Program, which they are unable to do under current law. Congress authorized the VA to move funds out of the program in 2015 – a measure we opposed – and they should now allow the VA the same flexibility to move funds back into the program.

“Patching up this flawed program year after year is not a permanent solution to the health care issues facing veterans. A systemic overhaul of the VHA is needed to allow veterans to use their benefits whenever and wherever they want and to remove the VA as the middleman.”

The 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.

For years, CVA has proposed the creation of a government-chartered non-profit to oversee the distribution of health care benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This entity would empower veterans to use these benefits at his or her own discretion – inside or outside of the VA.