House Blocks Shift of VA Money
The U.S. House of Representatives has rejected a plan to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to shift $2 billion from other programs to cover a sudden budget shortfall in its Choice program of private-sector care following opposition from veterans’ groups. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, the Republican chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has been working to reach a compromise and his office declined to comment.
The panel’s top Democrat, Jon Tester of Montana, introduced a bill earlier this month that would provide equal levels of extra funding for Choice and VA programs. Put in place after a wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital, the Choice program allows veterans to receive care from outside doctors if they must wait 30 days or more for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility.