NEW YORK, NY (August 2, 2017) — Last night, the Senate passed S114, a bill that would not only continue the Choice program uninterrupted, but also make critically-needed investments in the VA health care system. The bill will implement a bipartisan, bicameral agreement that leaders of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees reached following last Monday’s Monday’s defeat in the House of a prior version of Choice funding extension legislation, thanks to IAVA and leading VSO’s advocacy.
The Senate and House reached an agreement on funding the VA “Choice Program” after a problematic bill opposed by the nation’s leading veterans organizations failed early last week. The improved bill addresses the funding needs of the controversial and unproven “Choice” program, in response to urgent appeals from VA Secretary Shulkin. It also invests in critical VA capacity, thanks to the efforts of VSOs and leaders in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, especially Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT). IAVA will continue to urge Congressional leadership to avoid a disruptive and preventable situation like this in the future, to listen to leading VSOs, and to stand with America’s veterans in rejecting partisan, radical and short-sighted suggestions like the President made this week that VA care should be privatized.
IAVA joined The American Legion, AMVETS, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) in calling for this compromise.
“We are glad that the bill approved today will appropriate $2.1 billion — without having to meet PAYGO offset requirements – to continue funding the current Choice program for another six months. Most importantly, we supported this legislation because it will authorize 28 urgently-needed medical facility leases to expand VA’s internal capacity to deliver care, as well as provide VA with new tools and authorities to recruit, hire and retain high-quality medical professionals,” said the leading VSOs in a joint statement.
“We thank House Chairman Phil Roe (TN) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (MN) for working nonstop all week and in good faith to address the objections we raised about the bill that failed on Monday. We are also grateful to Senate Chairman Johnny Isakson (GA) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (MT) for their tireless efforts to ensure that the final legislation would clearly demonstrate Congress’ commitment to strengthening the VA health care system while also funding the Choice program. We know that this compromise agreement would not have been reached, nor the legislation approved, without the personal commitment of each of these leaders to supporting the men and women who served.”
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Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 8,000 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.