by Jared Staheli
August 23rd, 2017
The Veterans Choice Program, created in 2014, was part of the solution to the extensive waiting times found in the VA system. The program allowed veterans to meet their health care needs from private health care providers. Though the “sunset” of the program was avoided earlier in the year, the high demand for the program meant funding was slated to run out mid-August 2017. The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017, which alleviates the funding shortfall for six months, was signed into law by President Trump on August 12, 2017.
After an earlier version failed in the House in July, due to opposition from multiple veterans groups decrying the lack of funding for in-house VA services, the new bill will provide funding for both the Choice Program and the VA system. $2.1 billion will go to the Choice Program, enabling six more months of operation while Congress aims to work on other reforms for the Choice Program. The Act also aims to bolster the VA system by authorizing 28 major medical facility leases and improving recruitment, retention, and training of the VA workforce.