“On behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the nation’s veterans, I want to commend the leadership of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees on their agreement on legislation that will great benefit veterans.” So began Secretary David J. Shulkin’s statement, just weeks ago, following the passing of legislation to provide $2.1 billion to avoid a disruption in the Veterans Choice program.”
The new funding will allow for several important improvements, Shulkin explained:
- authorizing 28 major medical leases
- bringing new healthcare facilities closer to where veterans live
- attracting the most sought-after medical specialists
- establishing innovative human resources programs to strengthen workforce management
(An April 17 decision had temporarily suspended certain parts of the program to allow those to be evaluated and necessary changes made.) “The VA is committed to listening to the voices of those who care for Veterans of all eras and to collaborating to improve services, outreach, and awareness,” the Department announced on July 28th.
At Geyer Law, where Veterans Benefits is a core aspect of our practice, we were particularly encouraged after seeing the beautifully redesigned caregiver program website page on Geriatrics and Extended Care.But, even more important, we applaud some of the benefits David Shulkin describes in the new Veterans’ Choice program. A veteran would first speak with a VA clinician, and, depending on the veteran’s proximity to the right provider, he or she might see either a VA specialist or a provider in the community.
The Veterans Administration remains the primary resource, Shulkin stressed in an recorded interview:
- “We make sure community providers have all the information they need to treat the veteran.”
- “We get the veteran’s record back.”
- “We pay the veteran’s bill.”