Trump Signs Bill Giving Vets More Choices for Health Care

By Melanie Arter | April 19, 2017 | 3:13pm EDT
President Donald Trump talks about the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act before signing it, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (Associated Press/Susan Walsh)

( - President Donald Trump  signed into law on Wednesday the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act, which “eliminates the original sunset date on the Veterans Choice Program” and “gives veterans who are unable to schedule an appointment at a VA facility in a timely or convenient manner the ability to receive care from an eligible non-VA health care.”

“Using funds that have already been appropriated for this program, this gives our nation’s heroes the peace of mind they deserve while this administration works with Congress to enact comprehensive reform and modernization at the VA,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

“The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long, and it's time that they're recognized, and it's time that we now take care of them, and take care of them properly,” the president said before signing the legislation.

“That's why I'm pleased today to sign into law the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act,” Trump said, which “ will extend and improve the Veterans Choice Program so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice.”

Trump said the bill will ensure that veterans “don’t have to wait and travel long distances for VA care.”

“Some people have to travel five hours, eight hours, and they'll have to do it on a weekly basis, and even worse than that. It's not going to happen anymore,” he said.

“This was a very, very important bill to get started with so we can get Choice 2.0 to get to the place exactly where the president said he wanted to be, and it’s a privilege to work with all of these great people up here to help make the VA better,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), who present at the signing.

“I’ve spent the last week on the break going to Los Angeles and Phoenix to get a firsthand view of what’s going on, and what we want to do is put the veteran in charge of these choices, not the bureaucracy, and I think Dr. Shulkin is just the person to see that happen,” Roe added.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who was on hand for the signing, called it “a good day for veterans.”

“This is a great day to celebrate not only what veterans have contributed to the country, but how we’re making things better for them, and by working together, we’re going to continue this progress,” Shulkin said.

Trump said he and Shulkin will hold a press conference next week to talk about “all of the tremendous things that are happening at the CA and what we’ve done in terms of progress and achievement.”

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