Congress OKs Bill To Extend VA Program Widening Private Care

WASHINGTON (AP) – Congress is sending President Donald Trump legislation to extend a program widening veterans’ access to private-sector health care.

By voice vote Wednesday, the House agreed to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to operate its Choice program until its money runs out, expected early next year. Without legislation, the program will expire on Aug. 7 with nearly $1 billion left over.

VA Secretary David Shulkin says he needs the money for stopgap care as the government plans a revamp of veterans’ health services.

The Choice program was put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center. But the program often encountered long delays of its own.

The bill calls for fixes to alleviate some of the problems. The Senate passed the measure Monday.

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