Senator John McCain Applauds Final Passage of Legislation Preserving the Veterans Choice Programs

Date: Aug. 1, 2017
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today applauded the Senate's passage of the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017, legislation that was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week that would provide critical funding to ensure the Veterans Choice Program continues to offer timely access to quality health care in the community. This legislation will now be sent to the President's desk for signature.

"Congress created the Veterans Choice Program in the wake of the scandal in care at the Phoenix VA and VA hospitals around the country to ensure that veterans who live far from a VA facility or can't get a timely appointment have access to care in their own communities," said Senator McCain. "Since the program's creation, veterans have scheduled more that 8.7 million appointments for care in the community using the Choice Card. That is 2.6 million more appointments than last year or a 46 percent increase. These represent millions of appointments that would have otherwise been stuck for weeks or months in the VA's scheduling system. We simply cannot afford to let this program expire and send our veterans back to the status quo of never-ending wait-times for appointments and substandard care. The Senate's passage of this bill to preserve the Veterans Choice Program is an important step forward in ensuring our veterans continue to get the very best care when they need it and in their own communities."

Specifically, the legislation would provide funding for the Veterans Choice Program through the rest of the year and into the next fiscal year. In addition, the legislation would authorize 28 major medical facility leases and put in place reforms to strengthen the VA's ability to recruit, train and retain its workforce. Finally, the legislation would provide Congress necessary time to work with VA Secretary Shulkin on improving and refining the Veterans Choice Program in order to develop a more consolidated and standardized network for community care.