Trump extends private-sector health care program for vets

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President Donald Trump signed bipartisan legislation Wednesday that eliminates an expiration measure enacted by the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.

North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, applauded the decision by Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin to suspend revocations and launch an internal review of the VA Caregiver program. It allows ailing veterans at the Phoenix VA to go to one of 24 "MinuteClinics" operated by CVS for treatment of minor illnesses and injuries.

"The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long, and it's time that they're recognized, and it's time that we now take care of them, and take care of them properly", the president said before signing the legislation.

The Choice program was set to expire in August without the legislation, with almost $1 billion unspent in the account. Many vets complained it made getting that care more of a hassle. Major features of the program include medical support for caregivers, who often suffer from health problems as they focus on the veteran's well-being, and providing stipends to compensate caregivers' time.

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Mr. Shulkin has called on Congress to approve a more permanent solution to veterans' health care. We will continue working with our colleagues in the Senate and the new administration to follow through on our commitment to those who have borne the price of battle for our nation.

"Congress now has some time to work with Secretary Shulkin on broader, more permanent choice reforms that will truly put the veteran at the center of their health care and remove VA bureaucrats as the middlemen", Lucas said.

More than 1 million out of 9 million veterans in the VA system use some Choice care, with agency data pointing to even greater use this year.

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