President Donald Trump signed the VA MISSION Act into law this afternoon, which gives veterans more health care options in the private sector.

Veterans now have the ability “to see private physicians if they do not receive needed treatment from VA medical facilities, as long as it is approved by a health provider.”

Trump promised during his campaign that’d he overhaul the VA system, which for years has faced criticism for its subpar performance, especially for the horrendous wait times for a veteran to even see a doctor:

“You’ve fulfilled your duty to our nation with tremendous loyalty and courage, and with the signing of this veterans’ choice legislation, we take one more crucial step in fulfilling our duty to you,” he said.

Now that Trump signed the bill, the VA will “combine a number of existing private-care programs.” The bill forms “a commission to recommend which VA facilities are worth repairing, where new ones should be built, and which ones should be closed and care provided in the private sector instead.”

From USA Today:

Two veterans from Texas who traveled to Washington to be at the signing said the Choice program has been extremely helpful for them. Laura Vela, who served in the U.S. Army, and Air Force veteran Antonio Garcia said they previously had to drive nearly four hours each way to reach the nearest VA hospital in San Antonio.

“To me, it’s the perfect program,” said Garcia, who had his knee replaced last year by a health care provider about a half mile from his home in Brownsville.

“I think it’s a step forward,” said Vela, who saw a private provider at VA expense for gall bladder surgery. “It is strengthening our health care, and I think it will improve the healthcare and welfare of all of our veterans.”

The legislation includes “expanded benefits to cover the cost of care-givers to take care of injured veterans in their homes” for pre-9/11 veterans since these benefits previously only went to post-9/11 veterans. The VA can also give scholarships to medical students if they promise to work for the VA, which gives the clinics a chance to hire more doctor.

The House and Senate passed the bill with massive support from both sides.


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