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09 June 2018, 12:58 | Melissa Porter
PROMISE KEPT: Trump Signs VETERANS ACT to Expand Healthcare
A law signed by President Donald Trump could pave the way for veterans to have more freedom to see doctors outside the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.
At a Rose Garden event at the White House, Trumppraised the legislation as fulfilling his pledge to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs by bringing accountability and providing private care to veterans whenever they feel unhappy with government-run health care. Previously, comprehensive caregiver assistance and benefits were provided only to veterans injured on or after September 11, 2001, leaving family caregivers and veterans injured during World War II, the Korean, Vietnam and 1990-1991 Gulf War ineligible for this critical support. The House approved it on a 347-70 vote. That's when a TV news investigation found that veterans were waiting so long for care that in some cases they were dying before they ever were seen by a doctor. "I'm proud the House Committee on Veterans Affairs advanced Dr. Dunn's legislation to allow for the greater sharing of information between VA and state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, and I'm grateful for his continued work on this issue".
An administration official told the Washington Free Beacon the White House is committed to funding health care for current and future heroes and said the expansion can be paid for under existing spending caps. "But it is not the most cost effective way to take care of our veterans". This measure is aimed at changing that by phasing out the VA choice program after one year. A group of powerful Senate committee chairmen from both parties aims to remedy that by advancing a separate measure for the new $50 billion law, saying it is the best way to ensure the new programs give veterans access to medical care. Perhaps the most compelling provision is the authority the VA Secretary will be given to launch pilot programs through a newly established VA Center for Innovation for Care and Payment.
"If we implement this bill as Congress has written it, this legislation will be transformational to the VA", Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, said.
"Without subjecting the program to any budgetary constraint, there is no incentive to continue to serve veterans with innovative, streamlined and efficient quality of care", the administration says in the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post. The deal broke through previous spending caps with huge increases in domestic spending Democrats demanded in exchange for military spending sought by Republicans.
The Community Care Program, which was created by the Mission Act, accounts for $14.2 billion of the president's VA budget.
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