Trump Signs Sweeping VA Overhaul That Expands Private Care Options Into Law
The VA Mission Act, which Congress passed with bipartisan support before Memorial Day, was designed to overhaul the way veterans get private-sector care, close or consolidate underused facilities and provide new incentives to hire doctors, among other changes. Lawmakers are still trying to pay for the legislation, but President Donald Trump is opposed to their plan to fund the changes.
The Associated Press:
Trump Signs Bill To Expand Private Care At Troubled VA
President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Wednesday that will give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the troubled Veterans Affairs system, a major shift aimed at reducing wait times and improving care by steering more patients to the private sector. At a Rose Garden event at the White House, Trump praised 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. (Yen, 6/6)
The Washington Post:
Trump Signs Veterans Health Bill As White House Works Against Bipartisan Plan To Fund It
“The VA Mission Act authorizes and expansion of veterans’ access to private health care, but the bill does not reserve federal money to pay for it. 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 this is the best way to ensure the new programs give veterans access to medical care. But the White House has been lobbying Republicans to vote the plan down, instead asking Congress to pay for veterans programs by cutting spending elsewhere. (Werner and Rein, 6/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Launches Revamp Of Veterans’ Health Care. Can A Rudderless VA Carry It Out?
One of the central purposes of the law is to replace emergency legislation called the Choice Act, which was passed after a VA wait-time scandal sparked demand to change the department and give veterans more choice for their health care. Congress pushed through the Choice Act in 2014, mandating that the VA implement it within 90 days, which set the program up for failure, said Rep. Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Earlier this week, a Government Accountability Office report said the VA “cannot determine whether the Choice Program has helped to achieve the goal of alleviating veterans’ wait times for care.” “We started this four years ago,” Mr. Roe said. “It’s one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation we’ve passed since I’ve been” in Congress, he said. (Kesling, 6/6)
Trump Snubs Tester At VA Bill Signing
President Donald Trump’s vendetta against Sen. Jon Tester took a snippy turn today when the Democratic senator from Montana was left off the invite list for a White House signing of a VA bill that he had co-written. Although the VA Mission Act passed 92-5 in the Senate and 347-70 in the House, there were no Democrats at Trump's side. Tester, the ranking member on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, wasn’t even in the room. (Allen, 6/6)
President Trump Signs VA MISSION Act To Expand Veterans' Health Care
Working out the details of exactly how and when that will happen is now up to agency officials tasked with drawing up regulations under the law. If confirmed, Trump’s pick to become the VA secretary, Robert Wilkie, would lead that effort. Criteria to be considered include wait times for VA appointments, quality of VA care and distance from a VA facility. (Slack and Wagner, 6/6)