Senate votes to extend Veterans' Choice Program
Erin Mahn Zumbrun
The Senate voted to extend the Veterans’ Choice Program, which was set to expire in August. The bill now heads to the House for a vote. The Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act is a temporary extension to allow veterans to continue to access timely care in their own communities until the roughly $1 billion in remaining previously appropriated funding is expended.
NRHA applauds the continuation of the Choice program. Rural veterans often face significant challenges in accessing health care services, from the lack of full VA facilities in rural America to the limited service offerings at those facilities. This is particularly concerning since a disproportionate number of veterans are from rural America, and many return to rural areas following their service to our nation.
The bill is, however, only a temporary extension and does not provide any new funding nor does it tackle some of the problems faced by the program. The bill does eliminate a requirement that VA act as the secondary payer, which has increased costs and unnecessary burdens for providers. NRHA encourages Congress to continue to work to fix problems in the Choice program, including the timely reimbursement problems many rural providers are facing in the program.
NRHA encourages the House to quickly support this bill to allow the Veterans’ Choice Program to continue while a long term fix is developed.