Monday, 18 June, 2018

President Trump signs bill to expand private care for veterans

President Donald Trump has signed a bill into law that will expand private care for veterans as an alternative to the troubled Veterans Affairs health system PROMISE KEPT: Trump Signs VETERANS ACT to Expand Healthcare
Celia Hoffman | 09 June, 2018, 12:57

The US Veterans Administration now serves some nine million veterans across America. "We can change that", said Dunn. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee; Sen.

"On behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America members-veterans with spinal cord injury or disease-their families, and caregivers, we wish to express our gratitude to President Trump for signing this bipartisan legislation into law".

The bill was a bipartisan proposal that garnered the support of the White House and 38 veterans service organizations, he added.

Conservatives, including close Trump allies, publicly slammed the spending package and criticized Trump for signing it, and the administration has subsequently dug in against new spending and worked to claw existing spending back.

A sweeping reform of the VA system, that creates new care coordination and health IT improvements, could address some of the problems that have historically plagued the VA and veterans' access to benefits. Aiming to keep those promises, veterans programs are one of the few areas aside from the military where Trump has encouraged new spending.

Dunn's bill would direct the VA secretary to connect VA doctors and health care providers to a national network of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) which track prescribing data for patients prescribed drugs like oxycodone, morphine and hydrocodone to relieve pain.

The proposed bill would allow veterans to seek care from a private physician, with the approval of a VA health care provider, when they think that VA's health care systems can't provide the care they need.

"So it's now my great honor to sign the great VA Mission Act, or as we all know it, the Choice Act".

It could be a preview of spending fights to come, with the next government shutdown deadline looming on September 30, just ahead of the November midterm elections.

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"The Mission Act signed by the president today was very important piece of legislation that will improve services and conditions for all veterans".

The Mission Act revamps a private-care program Congress approved in 2014 after a scandal over fudged patient wait lists for medical appointments. "Our historic law gets rid of the government bureaucracy that has stood between Montana veterans and their health care". The law calls for billions for new programs to provide private care, but does not outline how they will be funded.

At a White House ceremony on Wednesday, Trump signaled out U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., who joined the House Veterans Affairs Committee last month.

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

Another sticking point is cost. VA has said its medical facilities are "often 40 percent better in terms of wait times" compared with the private sector. It empowers veterans and provides veterans with decision-making power to get care that works for them, on their schedules, near their homes, and I'm proud to have my provisions included in the legislation.

Caldwell said, however, that the White House is right to oppose lifting the budget caps to cover the Mission Act. "By increasing transparency in opioid prescribing, we can identify abuse patterns and ensure our veterans are getting the best possible care".

Additionally, the VA Mission Act aims to ensure that veterans have access to care from non-VA providers, including coverage of urgent care.

It's expected to take another year before a new single program is up and running.

Story by Erica Werner and Lisa Rein.

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