Frank sends us an article from the Washington Post which provides an overview of some of the issues that are involved in the new attempt to “fix” the Veterans Choice Program: “Congress sends massive veterans bill to Trump, opening door to more private health care.” (LINK)
A plain language summary of the bill has been provided by Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Phil Roe, MD. (LINK to PDF–26 pages).
The Veterans Choice Program dies in one year (page 10):
“Section 143 would provide a sunset date for the Veterans Choice Program one year
after the date of enactment of this Act.”
The new bill is an improvement but the VA has a habit of writing regulations interpreting these bills in ways that go against the intent of Congress and against the best interests of veterans. And 16 labor unions representing civil servants are opposed to this bill.
“The regulatory fight is going to be an even bigger fight than the legislative fight,” Bob Carey, director of policy and advocacy for veterans service organization The Independence Fund, said at a panel recently….Those people that write regulations are not going to be writing regulations that get rid of their own jobs. They’re not going to be writing regulations that get rid of their own authority.” (LINK)
The GAO released an important report on the “Choice” program this week before the signing: VETERANS CHOICE PROGRAM, Improvements Needed to Address Access-Related Challenges as VA Plans Consolidation of its Community Care Programs. (LINK to GAO 18-281 102 pages). It outlines the failures of the Choice program which remains in place for another year, but hopefully will inform the new VA regulations.
There will be chances for us to comment on VA and non–VA care on government websites in the months ahead!