Trump's overhaul of vets care is no quick fix

09 June, 2018, 12:53 | Author: Kara Nash
  • President Donald Trump at a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville Tenn

The Veterans Affair Mission Act was signed into law Wednesday by President Donald Trump.

"With President Trump, we took a big step in improving care and choice for our veterans".

The $51 billion measure builds on legislation passed in 2014 in response to a scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. Now only veterans who endure waits of at least 30 days - not nine days - for an appointment at a VA facility are eligible to receive care from private doctors at government expense. Previously, comprehensive caregiver assistance and benefits were provided only to veterans injured on or after September 11, 2001, leaving family caregivers and veterans injured during World War II, the Korean, Vietnam and 1990-1991 Gulf War ineligible for this critical support.

"On the anniversary of D-Day, we're reminded of the sacrifices of our courageous veterans and that we owe our service members a debt that can never be repaid".

The community care portion of the bill will provide veterans the option to use providers in their hometowns.

Other veterans, like Tom McKnight, would like to see continued improvement of the Department of Veterans Affairs even with this solution.

"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", Trump said at Wednesday's signing ceremony.

The VA Mission Act extends the VA's caregiver program to all veterans as it initially only catered to former warfighters recognized after the 9/11 incident. A group of senators is seeking to pay for the law by adding new funds to cover the VA private care program, but the White House has been quietly working to block that plan, saying it is "anathema to responsible spending".

"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 tension over how to pay for the legislation is part of a larger debate over private care for veterans. "Veterans are now empowered to have more control over their health care and more quality choices within their own communities".

Using President Barack Obama's Commission on Care as a model, a committee will be created with representatives from the House, Senate, medical experts and veterans organizations to direct the review and help the VA streamline, he added. The care will be judged by its timeliness, effectiveness, safety, and efficiency. The report re-affirmed industry criticisms of the Choice Program's ineffectiveness in providing out-of-network care for veterans, which the VA Mission Act aims to rapidly reform. That overhaul will take at least 10 years to be complete.

The Mission Act was rooted in Congressional efforts to improve veterans' services prompted more than four years ago when a whistleblower revealed a common practice of falsely reporting dates to make it appear as if services were provided in a much shorter period than what actually occurred, Roe recalled.


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