With the Stroke of the Presidential Pen, VA Choice Program is Replaced
On June 6th, President Donald Trump signed the VA Mission Act, replacing the Veterans Choice Program.
The Mission Act consolidates seven programs. It expands private health care options, expands caregivers assistance to the families of disabled veterans, and orders the Department of Veterans Affairs to inventory its 1,100+ facilities with a long-term view to downsize.
“This is a very big day,” said Trump, who made veterans care one of the signature issues of his run for the White House. “All during the campaign, I’d say, ‘Why can’t they just go out and see a doctor instead of standing on line?'”
American Legion spokesman Joe Plenzler said, “The American Legion worked very hard on this legislation with the administration and with Congress.” He added, “We were very pleased that the president signed it, and we look forward to implementing every piece of this legislation as discussed and negotiated.”
“We’re allowing our veterans to get access to the best medical care available, whether it’s at the VA or at a private provider,” said the president.
The bill will address the restrictions in the current caregiver program that provides stipends to family members who care for severely disabled veterans. The current program has been limited to post-9/11 veterans, but the bill was aimed at expanding caregivers assistance to veterans of all eras, possibly adding more than 41,000 caregivers.
The price tag for the VA Mission Act has been estimated to be between $52 billion and $55 billion. Members of Congress still haven’t fully figured out how they’ll pay for the Mission Act.
Direct patient care, suicide prevention, medical research, job training and many more vital veterans programs could face cuts in funding in order to pay for care in the community under this new plan.