Tester: Bill to boost veterans’ care passes key Senate committee

Posted at 9:25 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 11:25:30-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new streamlined community care program for American veterans is poised to pass the U.S. Senate.

The bipartisan V-A Mission Act passed the House last week. The Senate began debate on the bill Wednesday, in hopes it will reach President Trump’s desk by Memorial Day.

This new veterans bill  passed out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee with just one dissenting vote.

It would scrap the Veterans Choice Program in favor of a "community care program" that allows veterans and their doctors to choose where veterans care can be best addressed.

Senate Veterans Committee Chairman, Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and ranking Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana  highlighted the key points of the legislation on the Senate floor as the debate got underway.

Not only does the bill streamline how vets access community providers, it creates new standards for faster reimbursement for private providers, according to Tester’s office.

It also takes aim at several problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs, such as on-going workforce shortages.

The bill also addresses the opioid crisis and establishes stronger safety measures and guidelines for private providers who prescribe opioids to veterans.

The bill now has the support of 38 military and veterans groups as well as Trump, who has tweeted that he plans to sign it into law.