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VA tests partnership with CVS to reduce veterans' wait times

20 April 2017
VA tests partnership with CVS to reduce veterans' wait times

Governor Rick Scott will join President Trump for a bill signing of the Veteran's Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act at 11:30 a.m.at the White House.

The $10 billion Choice program allows USA armed forces members to seek covered medical care at non-VA hospitals and clinics if they are on a waiting list beyond 30 days and live at least 40 miles from the nearest VA facility.

"This bill will extend and improve the Veterans Choice Program so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice - you got it?"

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The Phoenix VA was the site of the 2014 scandal over chronically long wait times for care.

However, because the 2014 legislation was authorized and funded by emergency measures, a sunset provision was added, so the VA had prepared to restrict medical services in the program beyond the August 2017 termination date. Yet the program itself often encountered long wait times of its own.

Media outlets had reported that VA medical centers were cutting off caregiver benefits to families, possibly violating the department's rules.

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"My father served in WWII and I proudly served in the United States Navy, and I appreciate President Trump's commitment to our military and our veterans". Lucas said the Choice Program was a well-intentioned "quick fix" to the Phoenix scandal, but that it remains flawed and has forced too many veterans to seek care at what he termed failing VA facilities.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who was on hand for the signing, called it "a good day for veterans".

More than 1 million out of 9 million veterans in the VA system use some Choice care, with agency data pointing to even greater use this year.

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Conservatives calling for privatization say the VA provides medical services to only about 45 percent of veterans, and they point to delays and inefficiencies dogging the current system.