The Veterans Affairs Department and Congress have a busy year ahead.
VA is looking for congressional action on more than 100 legislative proposals, and 40 of them are new this year. Perhaps most notably, the department is looking for help to fix the Veterans Choice Program, which both Congress and the VA acknowledge is largely broken.
The program lets veterans find care outside of the VA under certain conditions.
“We have to modernize and clarify VA’s purchase care authorities to preserve veterans’ access to timely community care everywhere in the country,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies March 10. “Above all, this needs to be done in this Congress.”
Several pieces of legislation are circulating in the Senate that would change how veterans could find outside health care. The VA pitched its own proposal to Congress last October. The department’s plan would point veterans in the direction of the best care within a network of providers, rather than telling them to find care anywhere.