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Tester: Bill to boost veterans’ care passes key Senate committee

Posted at 9:14 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 11:14:15-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new streamlined community care program for American veterans is poised to pass the U.S. Senate.

The bipartisan VA Mission Act passed the US House last week and the US Senate began debate on the bill Wednesday, in hopes, it will reach President Trump’s desk by Memorial Day. This new veterans bill passed out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee with just one dissenting vote.

It would scrap the Veterans Choice Program in favor of a "community care program" that allows veterans and their doctors to choose where veterans care can be best addressed.

Senate Veterans Committee Chairman, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and ranking Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana (D-MT) highlighted the key points of the legislation on the Senate floor as the debate got underway.

Not only does the bill streamline how vets access community providers, it creates new standards for faster reimbursement for private providers, according to Sen. Tester’s office. It also takes aim at several problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs, such as on-going workforce shortages.

The bill also addresses the opioid crisis and establishes stronger safety measures and guidelines for private providers who prescribe opioids to veterans. The measure now has the support of 38 military and veterans groups as well as President Trump, who has tweeted that he plans to sign it into law.