Arlington, VA – Today, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) is scheduled to mark-up the Caring for our Veterans Act of 2017. The bill would establish a permanent VA community care program and consolidate the Veterans Choice Program with other community care programs.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Executive Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Like President Trump and Secretary Shulkin, CVA believes that veterans deserve more control over their health care at the VA. Keeping the VA as the gatekeeper between veterans and outside care will only continue problems that are present in the VA’s current community care and choice programs. The Caring for our Veterans Act of 2017 contains some good elements but needs improvement to ensure that veterans are being empowered with more control over their health care at the VA. CVA strongly encourages the committee to adopt the amendments proposed by Senator Moran that we believe would strengthen this bill. We look forward to working with the Senate to improve this legislation to ensure that veterans can access the care they have earned.”
The Veterans Choice Program, which was enacted under the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act, was implemented in response to the wait list scandal of 2014. It was passed as a stop-gap measure and was never intended to be a permanent solution. The Choice Program has faced several issues and failed to give many veterans real choice in their health care. In its current form, the VA Community Care Act does little to improve the restrictions of the current Choice Program.
For years, CVA has advocated for substantial health care reforms at the VA. In CVA’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce, the group advocates that veterans should have the option to take their earned health care benefits and use them to access care at the VA or in the private sector.