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Politics House votes to expand veterans' access to private care

02:36  17 may  2018
02:36  17 may  2018 Source:   cnn.com

AP Source: Trump considering Army veteran for VA secretary

  AP Source: Trump considering Army veteran for VA secretary President Donald Trump is considering an Army veteran who is a Republican member of Congress for the position of Veterans Affairs secretary. It's part of a lengthening search for a nominee following the abrupt firing of David Shulkin in March.A White House official says Rep. Brian Mast of Florida is among the list of candidates for the job serving 9 million veterans.Mast is the first member of Congress to open a lawmaker office in a VA facility, setting up shop in the West Palm Beach VA to meet with veterans. He was wounded when serving in Afghanistan in 2010, which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs.

House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation expanding veterans ' access to private care at taxpayer expense, a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, and adding more money to the "Choice program" weeks before VA officials said it could run out of money.

House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation expanding veterans ' access to private care at taxpayer expense, a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, and adding more money to the "Choice program" weeks before VA officials said it could run out of money.

The US Capitol dome and it's reflection are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on December 29, 2012. As the fiscal cliff deadline looms, Congress and the White House have still not reached a compromise. If no deal is struck by December 31 at midnight, taxes will automatically go up on both high earners and the middle class, and across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images) © KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images The US Capitol dome and it's reflection are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on December 29, 2012. As the fiscal cliff deadline looms, Congress and the White House have still not reached a compromise. If no deal is struck by December 31 at midnight, taxes will automatically go up on both high earners and the middle class, and across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation expanding veterans' access to private care at taxpayer expense, a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, and adding more money to the "Choice program" weeks before VA officials said it could run out of money.

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(CNN) - House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation expanding veterans ' access to private care at taxpayer expense, a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, and adding more money to the "Choice program" weeks before VA officials said it could run out of money.

House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation expanding veterans ' access to private care at taxpayer The billion plan that passed 347-70 Wednesday includes .2 billion for the VA Choice program that funds private care .

The $51 billion plan that passed 347-70 Wednesday includes $5.2 billion for the VA Choice program that funds private care. VA officials have warned that the program could run out of money as early as the end of the month, disrupting care for patients.

Hours before the House vote, Trump weighed in, urging lawmakers to back the bill.

"House votes today on Choice/MISSION Act," Trump tweeted on Wednesday. "Who will stand with our Great Vets, caregivers, and Veterans Service Organizations? Must get Choice passed by Memorial Day!"

A similar plan almost became law as part of the omnibus spending bill in March, but was blocked by some Democrats concerned about privatization of services for the nation's veterans.

There has been a long simmering debate about the extent to which veterans obtain care in the private sector. Many veterans groups say they don't want to see too many resources shifted outside the VA, a move they say would fundamentally bleed the health system dry.

The legislation is moving forward in Congress as the sprawling agency remains without a permanent leader after Trump ousted former Secretary David Shulkin and the nomination of Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, unraveled amid allegations about his professional conduct.

It would also launch a review of VA facilities with an eye toward closing under-performing institutions and would expand a VA caregivers program to cover the families of pre-9/11 veterans.

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Senate sends major VA reform bill to Trump's desk .
The Senate easily cleared legislation on Wednesday overhauling medical care options for veterans, sending the bill to President Trump's desk.Senators voted 92-5 on the proposal, termed the VA Mission Act, with only a simple majority needed to pass the bill. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mike Rounds ( R-S.D.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) voted against the legislation.With its passage, the bill will meet Trump's public deadline and arrive on his desk before Congress departs for a week-long Memorial Day recess. The bill passed the House last week in a 347-70 vote.

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