House funds shortfall, extends choice program
WASHINGTON» The House overwhelmingly approved a $3.9 billion emergency spending package to address a budget shortfall at the Department of Veterans Affairs that threatens medical care for thousands of veterans.
The bill provides $2.1 billion to continue funding the Veterans Choice program, which allows veterans to receive private medical care at government expense. Another $1.8 billion would go to core VA health programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities.
The bill, approved 414-0 Friday, goes to the Senate.
The Choice program was put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal that was discovered at the Phoenix VA hospital and spread throughout the country. Veterans waited weeks or months for appointments.
A priority of President Donald Trump, the program allows veterans to receive care from outside doctors if they must wait at least 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility.