Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Local veterans react to VA Mission Act of 2018

President Trump signs bill to give veterans expanded access to private health care options Local veterans react to VA Mission Act of 2018
Melissa Porter | 09 June, 2018, 12:59

Foremost, the law funds and updates the Veterans Choice Program, which connects veterans to third-party treatment outside of the VA when VA care would otherwise be unattainable or exceed a 30-day wait period.

"I compared it to putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound", said Burch. More importantly, the veterans who will place their lives in the hands of medical providers and healthcare networks under the VA Mission Act need to see real evidence that the nation they defended truly and meaningfully thanks them for their service. It also expands stipends for a popular program that pays family caregivers of veterans who served in Vietnam and later wars, for example, a priority for advocates.

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.

The White House is pressuring Republican lawmakers not to support the new spending that they say will bust spending caps and rack up more debt. Trump also neglects to mention that the White House is opposing a plan to fund the newly expanded Choice program, which could see escalating costs as more veterans seek the flexibility of picking their own doctors.

THE FACTS: The care provided under the Choice private-sector program is not as immediate as Trump suggests, nor does it always work out much better.

"It's better than having somebody come along and say, 'Yeah, you did a good job, but we're not going to take care of you, '" Bedford said of the VA Mission Act.

The measure builds on legislation passed in 2014 in response to a wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. The new, bipartisan measure consolidates numerous private-care programs that were fragmented and inefficient and drew support from disparate veterans groups that often disagree.

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.

While the VA Choice Program was meant to provide Veterans with flexibility in receiving care, its results were far from acceptable. "I will continue to work to provide veterans with the quality, efficient and timely services they need and have earned". That overhaul will take at least 10 years to be complete. This ambitious legislation will also set new standards in how providers are paid, provide continuing medical education for non-VA medical professionals, improve opioid prescribing practices, and sanction a VA asset and infrastructure review that will force legislators to contemplate the closure of costly, underused facilities in their districts. At The Washington Post, she has written about the federal workforce, state politics and government in Annapolis, Md., and in Richmond; local government in Fairfax County, Va. and the redevelopment of Washington and its neighborhoods.