Trump Signs VA Mission Act to Give Veterans Access to Private Health Care

By Melanie Arter | June 6, 2018 | 7:38 PM EDT

President Donald Trump (Screenshot)

( - President Donald Trump made good on a promise to give veterans more health care options, signing the VA Mission Act into law Wednesday.

The VA Mission Act stands for VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks. It allows veterans to seek private health care outside of the VA system.

“Four years ago, our entire nation was shocked and outraged by stories of the VA system plagued by neglect, abuse, fraud, and mistreatment of our veterans, and there was nothing they could do about it. They couldn't do anything about it. Good people that worked there, they couldn't take care of the bad people. Meaning, you're fired; get the hell out of here,” Trump said.

For example, Steve Cooper and Laura Vela - who were on hand at the signing ceremony - are just two examples of veterans who “served their country with honor, only to be denied the medical treatment they desperately needed.”

“No one should suffer what you suffered,” he said to them. “They suffered gravely. No one who defends our country in uniform should have to fight for their lives when they come back, when they come to their home. We commend your strength and courage in the face of hardship, and we pledge to act in your name, and in the name of every other veteran who has been so badly wronged, neglected, and mistreated.

“To those who serve our nation, who risk life and limb for country, we must never be denied care, access, or treatment that they need. That is why we are here today, and that is why we are signing this most important bill. It made so much sense. It's been so long. They've been working on it for years and years and years, and it wouldn't happen, and accountability is the other one,” Trump said.

“As a candidate for president, I promised to make reforming the VA one of my absolute highest priorities, and from the first day of my administration, that is exactly what we’ve done. Last year, I signed the historic VA Accountability legislation, meaning you now can immediately get rid of people that don't treat our veterans right; that rob us, or cheat us, or aren't good to our great vets. You can get them out. You couldn't do it,” he said.

Congress had been trying to pass an accountability bill for 40 years, Trump noted.

“But it was hard,” he said. “You have civil service. You have unions. Of course they'd never do anything to stop anything, but they had a very great deal of power, and in the end, they came along. Everybody came along because they knew it was right.”

“In the campaign, I also promised that we would fight for Veterans Choice, and before I knew that much about it, it just seemed to be common sense,” the president said. “It seemed like if they're waiting on line for nine days and they can't see a doctor, why aren't they going outside to see a doctor and take care of themselves, and we pay the bill?

“It's less expensive for us. It works out much better, and it's immediate care, and that's what we're doing. So we're allowing our veterans to get access to the best medical care available, whether it's at the VA or at a private provider,” Trump said.

“If the VA can't meet the needs of a veteran in a timely manner, that veteran will have the right to go right outside to a private doctor - so simple and yet so complex. This legislation also expands access to the caregiver program for seriously injured veterans. Because no matter where you served or when you fought, if you were in uniform -- at some point, if you wore that uniform, then you deserve our absolute best, and that's what we're doing,” the president said.

“This bill speeds up the claims process, increases the health services, expands access to walk-in clinics, and fights opioid addiction. These are sweeping, historic changes,” Trump said.

“There's never been anything like this in the history of the VA -- never been anything close -- and we will not rest until the job is fully done,” he said. “My administration has also taken action to ensure veterans can seamlessly transition their medical records from the Department of Defense into the VA.”

The bill’s signing took place on the 74th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, the president noted.

“On June 6, 1944, more than 70,000 brave young Americans charged out of landing craft, jumped out of airplanes and stormed into hell. They gave their hearts, their blood, and their very lives on those beaches to drive out the enemy and strike a lasting victory for our country and for freedom,” he said.


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