Bill to expand veterans health benefits signed by Trump

A bill that would allow the Veterans Administration to lease 28 new facilities across the country as well as let veterans seek a private health care option was signed by President Trump.

Washington Examiner:

"We're grateful President Trump is taking decisive action to ensure veterans using the Choice Program won't see lapses in their care due to a lack of funding," Dan Caldwell, policy director for the conservative Concerned Veterans for America said of the bill signing. "Unfortunately, this bill took far too long to get to the president's desk and is $1.8 billion more expensive than it needed to be."

Caldwell's mention of $1.8 billion is a reference to the money authorized for the new VA facilities, which CVA opposed.

"Some of these leases may very well be needed, but authorizing them at this time could lead to wasted resources that could otherwise be used to better serve veterans," Caldwell said in July.

More liberal veterans' groups worry that the money spent subsidizing care from private doctors represents a first step towards privatizing the VA.

"You ain't seen nothing yet if you send people to the private sector," Rick Weidman, legislative director of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said in December.

Trump's team maintains that won't happen.

"[F]ears of privatization are simply unfounded," VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote in a July op-ed. "President Trump is dedicated to maintaining a strong VA, and we will not allow VA to be privatized on our watch. What we do want is a VA system that is even stronger and better than it is today."

But CVA hinted they still hope for future reforms.

"What we saw during this process was a preview of how opponents of veterans' health care choice will behave in upcoming months as Congress works on broader reform," Caldwell said Saturday. "We will continue holding elected officials accountable for standing in the way of veterans' best interests and we will advocate for legislation that will provide veterans with permanent access to private sector care. We agree with Secretary Shulkin that the Veterans Choice Program is not the end state of veterans' health care choice."

Like most compromises, this one satisfies no one completely. But it addresses two major problems that are preventing veterans from receiving quality care in a timely manner.

Veterans have died waiting to be treated at VA facilities around the country. This bill will address  at least a part of that problem by allowing some veterans to see an doctor outside of the system, while turning parts of some private facilities over to the VA. More health care professionals treating veterans is a good thing.

But the cost of the bill was rightly questioned by conservatives who believe the government is overpaying for some services. And allowing veterans to seek care in the private sector means the opportunity exists for waste and fraud. 

But the bottom line is that the growing number of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who had trouble in dealing with the VA may, in some instances, use the private sector for their health care needs.

A bill that would allow the Veterans Administration to lease 28 new facilities across the country as well as let veterans seek a private health care option was signed by President Trump.

Washington Examiner:

"We're grateful President Trump is taking decisive action to ensure veterans using the Choice Program won't see lapses in their care due to a lack of funding," Dan Caldwell, policy director for the conservative Concerned Veterans for America said of the bill signing. "Unfortunately, this bill took far too long to get to the president's desk and is $1.8 billion more expensive than it needed to be."

Caldwell's mention of $1.8 billion is a reference to the money authorized for the new VA facilities, which CVA opposed.

"Some of these leases may very well be needed, but authorizing them at this time could lead to wasted resources that could otherwise be used to better serve veterans," Caldwell said in July.

More liberal veterans' groups worry that the money spent subsidizing care from private doctors represents a first step towards privatizing the VA.

"You ain't seen nothing yet if you send people to the private sector," Rick Weidman, legislative director of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said in December.

Trump's team maintains that won't happen.

"[F]ears of privatization are simply unfounded," VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote in a July op-ed. "President Trump is dedicated to maintaining a strong VA, and we will not allow VA to be privatized on our watch. What we do want is a VA system that is even stronger and better than it is today."

But CVA hinted they still hope for future reforms.

"What we saw during this process was a preview of how opponents of veterans' health care choice will behave in upcoming months as Congress works on broader reform," Caldwell said Saturday. "We will continue holding elected officials accountable for standing in the way of veterans' best interests and we will advocate for legislation that will provide veterans with permanent access to private sector care. We agree with Secretary Shulkin that the Veterans Choice Program is not the end state of veterans' health care choice."

Like most compromises, this one satisfies no one completely. But it addresses two major problems that are preventing veterans from receiving quality care in a timely manner.

Veterans have died waiting to be treated at VA facilities around the country. This bill will address  at least a part of that problem by allowing some veterans to see an doctor outside of the system, while turning parts of some private facilities over to the VA. More health care professionals treating veterans is a good thing.

But the cost of the bill was rightly questioned by conservatives who believe the government is overpaying for some services. And allowing veterans to seek care in the private sector means the opportunity exists for waste and fraud. 

But the bottom line is that the growing number of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who had trouble in dealing with the VA may, in some instances, use the private sector for their health care needs.

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