Hoeven: Senate Approves More Than $2 Billion for Veterans Choice

Funding Will Ensure Veterans Can Continue to Access Care in the Community

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the Senate passed legislation providing an additional $2.1 billion for the Veterans Choice program. The legislation now goes to the president to be signed into law.

“Veterans Choice opens up convenient, quality health care services to our veterans closer to home,” Hoeven said. “We have worked hard to address the issues of third party contractors under the program, ensuring better care for veterans and more reliable reimbursements for providers. By providing funding to continue the program, we can build on this progress and provide access to the care our veterans have earned.”

Today’s legislation follows a Hoeven-cosponsored bill signed into law earlier this year that repealed the termination date for the Veterans Choice Program and extended it until all of the original funding was expended. This ensured veterans could benefit from the $950 million in appropriated funding for the program that would have otherwise gone unused. The remaining funds were expected to be exhausted this month, and the funding approved today allows Veterans Choice to continue.

Hoeven continues working to improve veterans’ access to services under the Choice Program and build on the success of the Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. This effort has decreased the wait time from an initial call to scheduling an appointment under Veterans Choice from 24 days a year ago to five or six days currently. VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin has accepted the senator’s invitation to visit North Dakota and see firsthand local efforts to improve care for veterans, including the initiative. Hoeven is promoting the initiative as a model to help address delays in scheduling appointments through the Veterans Choice Program across the nation.

Hoeven has also secured a commitment from Secretary Shulkin to work with him on his Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act, which the senator recently reintroduced. The legislation would enable veterans to receive long-term care in their home communities near their loved ones by removing burdensome red tape for nursing homes and other health care providers.