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Trump Signs Bill Expanding Private Care Options for Veterans
09 June 2018, 07:57 | Randall Craig
PROMISE KEPT: Trump Signs VETERANS ACT to Expand Healthcare
This week, President Donald Trumpsigned the "John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Networks Act" (VA MISSION Act) into law and a freshman congressman from North Florida's fingerprints are all over it.
There also is little evidence that providing private care to veterans compared with treatment at one of VA's 1,300 clinics and hospitals will be "less expensive".
"The bill makes much-needed investments in the healthcare of our nation's heroes and includes important reforms to make sure they get the healthcare they need when they need it", said Cox.
THE FACTS: The care provided under the Choice private-sector program is not as immediate as Trump suggests, nor does it always work out much better.
"This was a really big push by 38 Veterans Service Organizations to get this bill passed", said Dean Noechel, Junior Vice Commander of the Department of Colorado American Legion. The Mission Act revamps a private-care program Congress approved in 2014 after a scandal over fudged patient wait lists for medical appointments. "Our historic law gets rid of the government bureaucracy that has stood between Montana veterans and their health care".
President Trump says, "If they're waiting in line for nine days, and they can't see a doctor, why aren't they going outside to see a doctor and take care of themselves, and we pay the bill?" The new, bipartisan measure consolidates numerous private-care programs that were fragmented and inefficient and drew support from disparate veterans groups that often disagree. Currently, more than 30 percent of VA appointments are in the private sector.
Cox has introduced over 120 pieces of legislation for the military, veterans, and their families during his time in the House.
The bill's passage into law is a part of Congress' efforts to do right by the nation's veterans, according to Isakson, the Senate bill sponsor.
The Community Care Program, which was created by the Mission Act, accounts for $14.2 billion of the president's VA budget. This ambitious legislation will also set new standards in how providers are paid, provide continuing medical education for non-VA medical professionals, improve opioid prescribing practices, and sanction a VA asset and infrastructure review that will force legislators to contemplate the closure of costly, underused facilities in their districts.
One is the community care aspect; another is $2.5 billion to provide funding for services as the legislation is implemented.
As the term for that act neared its end, the Veterans Affair Committee began work on taking the improvement process further.
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