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Senate Approves VA Choice Program Extension Bill

The Senate has unanimously approved a bill that would permit the Department of Veterans Affairs to use funds appropriated for the Veterans Choice Program after the initiative expires on Aug. 7.

Sen. John McCain’s (R-Arizona) office said Monday the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act would allow VA to fully consume $950 million in remaining program funds.

The bill would authorize VA to serve as the primary payer under the Veterans Choice Program in an effort to reduce veterans’ out-of-pocket costs and align the program with the department’s other community care initiatives.

The legislation also seeks to optimize the exchange of medical records between VA and community providers, McCain’s office noted.

Veterans are currently unable to schedule appointments that fall after the program’s expiration date.

McCain sponsored the bill with fellow Sens. Jon Tester (D-Montana), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas).

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