President Trump signed a bill on Wednesday that will expand a program at the Department of Veteran Affairs that will allow patients to seek care from private doctors, Business Insider reports.
The Veterans Choice Improvement Act removes the expiration date of the program scheduled to occur in August, and “removes barriers that Congress placed around the original “choice” initiative.”
The choice program was created in 2014 by lawmakers after wait time “cover-ups” were revealed to have occurred at over 100 VA facilities across the country.
The program was originally set to be an option for two years, with patients only able to choose to see private doctors if they resided “more than 40 miles from the nearest VA hospital or if they could not get an appointment from their local VA facility within 30 days.”
Concerned Veterans for America, praised the administrations decision to extend the choice program, but added that lawmakers should continue to push for reform within the VA.
“Extending the Choice Program is the right thing to do, but only as a stopgap measure until better solutions are developed and implemented,” Policy Director at CVA Dan Caldwell said. “Reauthorizing the Choice Act buys Congress some time to work with Secretary [David] Shulkin on broader choice reforms that will truly empower veterans with the ability to seek care outside the VA when they want to.”