Trump extends program allowing some veterans to use local doctors, hospitals

Rick Scott on hand as Donald Trump signs Veterans Choice bill

The bill signed by President Trump Wednesday extends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 past the original sunset date of August 2017.

Some veterans have criticized the Choice Program for being complex and confusing, and while many congressmen and veterans groups applauded Trump's signing of the bill, they did so with the caveat that the program improves.

VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin, the only holdover in the Obama administration in the Trump Cabinet and the only cabinet member to win unanimous confirmation in the Senate, said at the signing ceremony that the Choice extension was a precursor of "the great things that are to come to fulfill the president's commitments that he made to veterans".

The 2014 initiative ensures that USA veterans do not have to wait long periods of time or drive long distances to get their healthcare needs from a provider and can opt instead to receive healthcare from a local provider. The Trump administration has promised to work on "full-scale reform" of the Department of Veterans Affairs. "This bill will extend and improve the Veterans Choice Program so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice". Congress would have to approve any changes to the VA health system. It's created to provide services while the veterans administration develops a longer term plan.

He said Republicans, Democrats and Independents supported the bill that he says will begin to fix the Choice Program.

Rick Scott and Glenn Sutphin, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs, stood just to the left of the president at the ceremony. "We look forward to supporting legislation that will let veterans go outside the VA for care when they want or need to".

"So this is called the Choice Program Improvement Act".

McCain, a Navy veteran, said the extension "sends an important message that we will not send our veterans back to the status quo of unending wait-times for appointments and substandard care". "We will fight each and every day to deliver the long-awaited reforms our veterans deserve".