President Trump signed a very important bill on Wednesday that extended the Veterans Choice Program, which was his first real step towards addressing the chronic problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long, and it’s time that they’re recognized, and it’s time that we now take care of them, and take care of them properly,” Trump said.
The bill will allow veterans to seek private care outside of the VA so long as they live more than 40 miles away from a VA hospital or if they aren’t able to book an appointment within 30 days.
Prior to the signing on Wednesday, the Choice program was slated to expire this August with nearly $1 billion sitting in the account unspent.
The account was created in 2014 after shocking reports shed light on how poorly our veterans were being treated, particularly in Phoenix, Arizona where dozens of veterans died while waiting for care.
Trump also thanked Sen. John McCain and Sen. Johnny Isakson for their hard work on the bill, as well as Rep. Phil Roe, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
“Some people have to travel five hours, eight hours, and they’ll have to do it on a weekly basis, and even worse than that,” Trump said. “It’s not going to happen anymore.”
Trump was joined by Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin in the Oval Office when he signed the bill. Shulkin was a very strong supporter of the bill and ensuring that it was signed.
“This is a good day for veterans,” he said. “This is a great day to celebrate not only what veterans have contributed to the country, but how we’re making things better for them.”
The extension of this bill that was passed by Congress will allow medical records to be shared with hospitals outside of the VA. It also modifies the procedures for reimbursement for private hospitals.
This was a much-needed step towards fixing the VA, and Trump was smart to get this done.