U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

Bipartisan Reform Supported by Senator Baldwin to Fix VA Choice Program Passes Congress

Legislation to help veterans get the quality care they deserve in their own communities set to become law

By - Apr 7th, 2017 12:24 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation supported by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin to fix the VA Choice Program for Wisconsin veterans passed Congress and is set to be signed into law.

The bipartisan Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act is part of Senator Baldwin’s 3-point plan to help veterans get the quality care they deserve in their own communities. The VA Choice Program was intended to help veterans receive timely and quality care in their own communities, outside of VA facilities. However, as many Wisconsin veterans shared their stories and frustrations with Senator Baldwin, it became clear that the VA Choice Program was not working well for veterans.

“I’ve heard from veterans across Wisconsin who’ve encountered confusing billing practices, infuriating scheduling practices and poor customer service when they’ve tried to go through the VA Choice Program,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our veterans deserve better. When they want care in their own communities, they should be able to expect the high quality service they have earned and deserve. When signed into law, this bipartisan reform will help make that a reality.”

The Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act, authored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, would make the VA the primary payer under the Choice Program, reducing veterans’ out-of-pocket expenses and aligning the Choice Program with the VA’s other community care programs.

The bipartisan Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act would accomplish this by:

  • Improving the sharing of medical records between the VA and community providers in Choice to better coordinate care for veterans and connect them to care in a timelier manner.
  • Reducing confusion and out-of-pocket costs for veterans.
  • Allowing community providers to be reimbursed in a more rapidly – which would reduce providers’ frustrations and ultimately bring them back into Choice, further increasing access to care for more veterans.

The Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act was also cosponsored by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Boozman (R-AR), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John McCain (R-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

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