President Donald Trump signed legislation to extend the Veterans’ Choice Program, which was set to expire in August. This temporary extension will allow veterans to continue to access timely care in their own communities until the roughly $1 billion in remaining previously appropriated funding is expended.
NRHA applauds the continuation of the Choice program. Rural veterans often face significant challenges in accessing health care services, from the lack of full VA facilities in rural America to the limited service offerings at those facilities. This is particularly concerning since a disproportionate number of veterans are from rural America, and many return to rural areas following their service to our nation.
However, this is only a temporary extension and does not provide any new funding nor does it tackle some of the problems faced by the program. The bill does eliminate a requirement that VA act as the secondary payer, which has increased costs and unnecessary burdens for providers.
A replacement for the Choice program is expected this fall, according to VA Secretary David Shulkin.
NRHA encourages Congress and the Administration to continue to work to fix problems in the Choice program, including the timely reimbursement problems many rural providers are facing in the program.