Monday, July 24, 2017
Remember the Veterans Choice program, discussed in my recent article about reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs?
In 2014, in response to the scandal of veterans in Phoenix and other locations facing interminable waits for needed care, Congress and the Obama administration established the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), allowing veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA health clinic or who face a wait of more than 30 days for an appointment to get treatment from non-VA facilities. The VCP was intended as a pilot program and scheduled to end this August, but earlier this year President Trump signed legislation extending its duration until funding runs out.
Demand for the program has increased rapidly, almost a 50 percent increase over last year's number of appointments. In the first six months, veterans made eight million community care appointments through the program. Current funding is projected to run out by the second week of August.
Today the House is scheduled to vote on a bill that will provide another $2 billion in funding for the program by diverting funds from other parts of the VA budget.
Eight veterans ...