Bill will cut red tape, streamline veterans’ access to care in the community

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today to introduce legislation to improve the VA Choice Program and extend access to timely care for more of America’s veterans in their own communities.

The Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act (S. 544) would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use the remainder of funds authorized under the Veterans Choice Program until the funds are fully expended. It also ensures veterans’ access to care isn’t disrupted by the August 7, 2017, sunset of the program. Currently, veterans aren’t able to schedule appointments after that date.

“Veterans in Kansas and across the country are still struggling to access the timely, quality healthcare that the Choice Program was intended to provide,” Sen. Moran said. “Many Kansas who have served rely on Choice, and this important legislation will offer peace of mind that they can continue to seek care in their community. It also cuts unnecessary red tape between the VA and community providers who are nobly serving our veterans.”

Additionally, S. 544 would authorize the VA to be the primary payer under the Choice Program, reducing veterans’ out-of-pocket costs and aligning the Choice Program with the VA’s other community care programs. Currently, the VA acts as a secondary payer for non-service connected care through Choice, which has created unnecessary administrative hurdles that often increase costs for veterans, delay access to care, and slow down reimbursements for providers. Further, the bill would improve the sharing of medical records between the VA and community providers to better coordinate and connect veterans to care.