Veteran’s Choice Program Will Continue
On Wednesday, lawmakers passed an extension of the Veteran’s Choice Program. This move will help aid thousands of veterans with the health care they need. According to Military Times, the measure passed the chamber by a voice vote. Earlier in the week, it cleared the Senate without opposition. The White House is expected to sign the measure into law in coming days.
What is the Veteran’s Choice Program?
The Choice Card program, created by Congress in the wake of VA’s 2014 wait time scandal, is one of multiple offerings by the department for veterans to seek medical care outside the VA system. Veterans who face lengthy wait times for VA hospital appointments or live more than 40 miles from VA clinics are eligible to use the program to seek private-sector medical care instead.
The program had a set budget of $10 billion, however was scheduled to shut down in August of 2017.
According to VA Secretary ,David Shulkin, the expiration date for the program has already created problems for physicians planning long-term care under the program, including female veterans seeking prenatal care for babies due in the fall.
What does the future hold?
Right now, the program is here to stay but maybe not for much longer. This may come to a shock since the program was voted to continue. However, there is only $1 billion left in the budget for the Veteran’s Choice Program. The new legislation only allows the program to continue until the budget runs out.
With that being said, VA officials have promised to work alongside legislators to improve the program in the coming months. There is still a possibility for a new veteran’s program that would be set in place of the VA Choice program.
How does this help locally?
Here in Saint Joseph and the surrounding communities, Northwest Health Services will be able to utilize the VA Choice program until funds run out or until a new plan is put in place. If a veteran meets all the qualifications of the program stated earlier, then they may receive care at one of our clinic’s. Please keep in mind that veterans who face lengthy wait times for VA hospital appointments or live more than 40 miles from VA clinics are eligible to use the program to seek private-sector medical care instead.
If you have any questions about the VA Choice, you can call us at (816) 901-1433 or visit us online at www.nwhealth-services.org.
Have a great day.
Corey Myers is the Outreach & Enrollment Specialist for Northwest Health Services and works with healthcare professionals to provide important health information.