The legislation, Veterans Choice Improvement Act, was introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and fellow U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), John McCain (R-AZ), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).
In an interview with Fox News, Moran said the legislation will guarantee quality care for America’s heroes.
“The legislation passed, that in of it itself is an accomplishment; the House and Senate passed the legislation signed by President Trump that extends [the Veterans Choice] program, that simplifies [that] program and makes sure the bills are paid more easily and that medical records are shared between the VA and those private healthcare providers.”
While this program extends the law that was previously set to expire on August 7, 2017, Moran insists there is still more that can be done.
“Commitments have been made, promises have not been kept; the Choice Act which was passed several years ago clearly is a help,” said Moran. “One and half million Veterans across the country are accessing care outside the VA, paid for by the VA and thousands of healthcare providers are participating; but in the past this has not been a piece of legislation that the Department of Veterans Affairs embraced, and the VA continues to be a very bureaucratic place.”
With the flaws in the Department of Veterans Affairs, Moran noted a shifting attitude in leadership that will allow the Choice program to be more effective.
“The problems have been attitude, approach, bureaucracy, culture at the Department of Veterans affairs,” said Moran. “We need to continue on a hour to hour, day by day basis changing the way the VA operates to make certain that the reality is that [we] care for Veterans where they live, we meet the timeliness of their needs and it’s not about protecting the VA – it’s about taking care of the Veterans.”
Part of the effort in consistently improving the quality of healthcare for Veterans is making them more aware of the services available to them.
“[For those] Veterans that live long distances from a VA hospital, this law says that if you live more than 40 miles from that VA facility, the VA must provide those services at home if that’s what the Veteran wants,” said Moran. “In addition to that, if you can’t get the service you need within 30 days from the VA, then you have the ability to have those services provided by the hometown physician in your hospital or neighborhood.”
The law also authorizes the VA to be primary payer under the Veterans Choice Program which reduces out of pocket costs for Veterans and aligns the Choice program with the VA’s other community care programs.
Moran’s full interview is featured in the video below.