VA Secretary Bob McDonald talks before PVA at 69th annual Convention
At May’s Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) 69th Annual Convention in San Diego, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary (VA) Robert McDonald said fixing the VA’s budget deficit could be as easy as moving money in the budget around, but current rules prevented him from doing that.
During a House Committee hearing in June, McDonald asked for that permission and in August he received the flexibility he needs.
Since passing the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, the VA has fallen short nearly $3 billion for care purchased in the community. This new law, PL 114-41, the “Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act,” gives the VA the authority to transfer up to approximately $3.3 billion from the “Choice” fund to fill that budget gap.
The law also modifies the Choice program by eliminating the date of enrollment a veteran had to meet to be eligible for the program, removing the restriction for a previously-authorized treatment to be reauthorized after 60 days and expanding eligibility to veterans living 40 miles from a VA medical facility even if they have a closer facility that doesn’t provide necessary primary care.
In addition to this, the law provides direction on the consolidation of purchased care authorities into one streamlined program: Non-VA Purchased Care, Fee Care, Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3), Choice, etc.
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