Trump signs new VA bill

President Trump signs bill to give veterans expanded access to private health care options

"Our position is that we should pay for this under the existing spending cap, as the House MilCon/VA bill does, rather than increasing spending by raising the cap", said a GOP leadership aide. The House voted 347-70 in favor of the bill and the Senate voted 92-5, sending the bill to the White House. Without passage of the veterans funding bill soon, lawmakers and veterans groups warn that Veterans Affairs will be forced to make hard trade-offs about which programs should be funded.

The sweeping law, which was a priority for Mr. Trump, authorizes new health care programs for veterans and combines or overhauls several separate and sometimes competing private-care programs. "It's less expensive for us, it works out much better, and it's immediate care". "And that's what we're doing".

The act establishes standards for veterans to consult with the private sector for "timely and effective care".

It allows veterans to see private doctors when they do not receive the treatment they expect, with the approval of a VA provider.

Waits for a private doctor are not always shorter. The new, bipartisan measure consolidates numerous private-care programs that were fragmented and inefficient and drew support from disparate veterans groups that often disagree. Conservatives and liberals agree that outsourcing tends to cost more because VA care has economies of scale, but how much more is a question that will affect the spending debate between the senators and the White House. Others counter argue that the VA is too big and inefficient to succeed, and those who have served should be able to choose a provider wherever and whenever they need healthcare, which is the underpinning of the new law.

TRUMP: "This bill speeds up the claims process, increases the health services, expands access to walk-in clinics, and fights opioid addiction". Investigators faulted bureaucratic inefficiency and understaffing at VA, which contributed to delays in making referrals and scheduling appointments.

One is the community care aspect; another is $2.5 billion to provide funding for services as the legislation is implemented.

Updates now mandated by law get rid of certain parameters patients must meet to participate in the Choice Program. "And we got it done".

Major provisions of the law also include technology infrastructure investments to streamline electronic payments, provide telemedicine care to veterans, and establish new access to care for veterans within rural communities.

He added, "You shouldn't have to ask Congress every year for money to take care of veterans". The Choice Program aimed to connect veterans with healthcare when those veterans face wait times longer than 30 days, extraordinary travel distances, or limited care options at their VA medical centers. The Mission Act also removed barriers for Telehealth statewide and nationwide medical consultations and diagnosis.

The contract, one of the largest in VA's history, has also drawn concern from lawmakers that it could be plagued with problems and ultimately prove ineffective.

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