Obama’s Proposed Budget Strips Funding to Veterans’ Choice Program – Forces Them Back Into VA System

Barack Obama delivered a major speech at Fort Belvoir before signing the Veterans’ Choice Program in August that gives veterans the right to receive faster care outside of the long VA waitlists.
He thought it was a good idea then – in August.

This week Obama stripped funding to the healthcare choice program in his proposed budget.
The Washington Examiner reported:

President Obama’s 2016 budget blueprint proposes rolling back a program that gives veterans the right to receive faster care outside of the long waitlists at the troubled Veterans Affairs medical system.

Obama signed the Veterans Choice Program into law in August following months of partisan wrangling on Capitol Hill that finally led to a compromise measure to overhaul the agency.

The Veterans Choice Program was a key GOP provision in the deal.

Authored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the measure provides “choice” cards to veterans that can be used to obtain medical care at designated facilities outside of the VA system.

But Obama announced Monday he’ll send a legislative proposal to Congress that would allow the VA to raid the program’s funding, now set at $10 billion.

Veterans groups were angered by the move to divert funding from the program, noting that Obama had touted the legislation to reform the VA in the months leading up to the November election and did not express opposition to the choice cards.

The program was funded to last until 2017 but would end sooner if money is diverted, critics said.

“That money was specifically allocated by him for the choice program,” Dan Caldwell, the legislative director for Concerned Veterans for America, told the Washington Examiner. “What that would do is cause the choice program to be a lot shorter and to inevitably serve fewer veterans.”

But veterans groups say the choice program rollout has been hindered by red tape, including a requirement that those who receive a choice card call the VA to determine whether they are actually eligible to use it.

Republicans on Capitol Hill denounced the move and said they’d reject it.

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