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I want more choices!
Tomorrow, President Donald Trump will sign a bill to meet a budget shortfall in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care choice program. This is a win for veterans who desperately want to escape the VA's experiment in socialized medicine, but it's only a temporary victory.
The choice program was created in 2014 as a response to the VA wait list scandal, and it gives veterans the ability to access care outside the VA system — but only in limited circumstances, such as if they live too far away from a health center.
The bill will give an extra $2.1 billion in funding for the program, but this is a temporary measure. "It basically fills a budget shortfall in the program," Dan Caldwell, policy director at Concerned Veterans for America, told PJ Media on Friday. "The extension of the program was signed back in April, but the funding ran out."
Caldwell noted that some members of Congress actually opposed this needed funding (which Trump will sign tomorrow), and demanded extra unrelated funding. "While we wanted to see the choice funding extended," the CVA director said his organization wanted "a better analysis of the VA's current infrastructure needs" before the unrelated funding propped up the existing framework by extending leases on VA medical facilities.
Liberals continue to argue that the VA's problems are due to insufficient funding, rather than bureaucratic mismanagement, a lack of health care options for veterans, and the lack of accountability at the VA.
"With the current problems plaguing the Veterans Choice Program, Congress must pass permanent reforms that empower veterans with the ability to access care inside or outside of the VA at their own discretion," Caldwell said.
The choice program will get the needed funding, but Democrats have used this issue to squeeze more infrastructure funding to prop up the struggling system. Expect the battle over veterans' choice in health care to get even more heated, and to burst into conflagration after Labor Day.