President Trump signs bill expanding private care for veterans

President Trump signs bill expanding private care for veterans

President Donald Trump has approved a bill that will allow veterans to seek healthcare services from the private sector if a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital fails to accommodate to their needs, the Washington Examiner reported Wednesday. "We have a responsibility to provide our Veterans with the care they deserve, while also being good stewards of the taxpayer dollar", the administration said in a statement.

"For years, Veterans in rural communities throughout Michigan's First District have struggled to access the care they've earned in a timely and convenient setting". On some issues, most prominently last year's $1.5 trillion tax bill or immigration measures such as the border wall, Trump has signed off on legislation projected to massively increase the federal deficit.

The legislation had the support of almost 40 major veterans groups, who in a letter before the bill passed the House described it as a "major step" toward the goal of ensuring timely and seamless health care for veterans. The House voted 347-70 in favor of the bill and the Senate voted 92-5, sending the bill to the White House.

The new law makes it easier for veterans to get treatment covered outside of VA centers. "By increasing transparency in opioid prescribing, we can identify abuse patterns and ensure our veterans are getting the best possible care".

"Why aren't (veterans) going outside (the VA) to see a doctor and take care of themselves, and we pay the bill", Trump asked at the bill-signing ceremony.

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"Without subjecting the program to any budgetary constraint, there is no incentive to continue to serve veterans with innovative, streamlined and efficient quality of care", the administration says in the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post. The new, bipartisan measure consolidates numerous private-care programs that were fragmented and inefficient and drew support from disparate veterans groups that often disagree. 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. 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.

The VA secretary will have wide leeway in implementing the legislation based in part on available money. VA has said its medical facilities are "often 40 percent better in terms of wait times" compared with the private sector. "But it is not the most cost effective way to take care of our veterans".

The bill's passage into law is a part of Congress' efforts to do right by the nation's veterans, according to Isakson, the Senate bill sponsor. "This should help the (Veterans Affairs) keep up with demand".

The legislation would create a presidentially appointed commission to review the closure of underperforming VA facilities.

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