House Authorizes Funding for Veterans Choice Program
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House passed S. 114, a bill to authorize appropriations for the Veterans Choice Program. The House also passed eleven other pieces of legislation that will expand services and improve care for U.S. veterans.
LaMalfa said: “We’ve known for years that the VA is in dire need of reform – now, together with VA Secretary David Shulkin, Congress is working to make these reforms a reality. In April, the House voted to permanently extend authorization for the Veterans Choice program, giving our veterans greater choice when it comes to health care. President Trump soon signed that legislation into law. This legislation provides funding to keep the program running for another six months while Congress works on a solution to keep the program funded long-term. Congress has made our intent clear, and we will continue to put bills on the President’s desk that will ensure veterans don’t have to wait to be seen by a doctor.”
Established under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, the Veterans Choice Program appropriates funds for veterans to seek health care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as an alternative to VA care. In April, the House voted to eliminate the sunset date for the Veterans Choice program. In June, VA Secretary David Shulkin notified Congress that, due to increased demand, the VA expects the funding for the Choice Program to be depleted by August. S. 114 provides $2 billion to continue the Choice Program for 6 months while Congress works on other reforms.
Additionally, the House also passed the following veterans bills:
- H.R. 3218: Removes GI Bill time to claim benefits, consolidates the GI Bill program into one program, and restores eligibility to vets whose school closes in the middle of the semester.
- H.R. 282: Allows a spouse to elect to use the same residence as the service member they are married to.
- H.R. 1058: Makes changes at the VA to ensure podiatrists are on par with other doctors in the VA system.
- H.R. 1690: Within 120 days of the end of each Fiscal Year, the VA must transmit all bonuses paid out to Senior Executives to HVAC and SVAC.
- H.R. 2006: Creates a uniform system for reporting the cost savings from competition within the VA’s procurement system.
- H.R. 2772: Requires the Secretary to approve the reassignment of all Senior Executive service (SES), and submit a semiannual report detailing cost of each employee movement; and requires the VA to inform Congress where the SESs are being moved.
- H.R. 2781: Directs the VA to work with the GSA to increase the number of Service-Disabled Veteran and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses represented on contracts, or stop using GSA contracts for purchases.
- H.R. 2749: Cracks down on fraudulent vet-owned small business contractors.
- H.R. 3262: Creates Grow Our Own Directive (GOOD) pilot program to give education assistance to former service members with experience in the medical or military health fields to be trained as VA physician assistants (PAs).
- H.R. 95: Makes permanent a pilot program to offer child care at VA medical facilities for service members that are the primary care takers of children, and are receiving mental health services or some other intensive health care services.
- H.R. 1848: Hires 40 medical scribes (20 hired, 20 additional contracted) to be placed in 10 VA hospitals (4 rural, 4 urban, 2 identified as in need of medical efficiency improvements).
Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.