Proposed VA Choice Program Funding Bill Fails in House Vote

A House vote on funding for the Veterans Affairs Choice Program failed to get enough votes to pass on Monday. The bill would have provided $2 billion to the healthcare program over the next six months. Consequently the remaining money in the VA Choice Program will run out in mid-August if no additional funding is provided. VA officials have said without additional money for the Choice accounts in the next few weeks, thousands of veterans will be forced off the program.

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House Lawmakers Consider a Six-Month Fix for the VA Choice Program

House leaders are eyeing a six-month funding patch to keep the Department of Veterans Affairs Choice program running while congressional leaders debate the future of the medical care program. The move, announced by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman, would cost about $2 billion to allow veterans in the system to continue receiving outside medical appointments at VAs expense. However, leading veterans groups are opposing theHouse plans, saying it unfairly shifts needed monies away from department programs.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2tvjnbR AND http://bit.ly/2eHSJG3

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VA official downplays Agent Orange risks; his comments do not accurately reflect VA’s position.

A key federal official who helps adjudicate claims by veterans who say they were exposed to Agent Orange has downplayed the risks of the chemical herbicide and questioned the findings of scientists, journalists and even a federal administrative tribunal that conflict with his views. Veterans Affairssaid his comments “did not fully or accurately reflect VA’s position”,and also saidhis quotes were being taken out of context.

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VA to use Defense Department’s Electronic Medical Records System

Veterans Affairs has announced plans to shift veterans electronic medical records to the same system used by the Defense Department, potentially ending historic problems in sharing information between the two bureaucracies. VA Secretary Shulkin announced the decision as a game-changing move that will create an easier to navigate system for veterans.

Read more at http://bit.ly/2r1pE9Z and view VA Secretary Shulkin’s announcement video at http://bit.ly/2qQzXNQ.

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Veterans Affairs Launches Scheduling App

The Department of Veterans Affairs has created a web-based app that allows veterans using its medical system to request or schedule certain appointments online. The Veteran Appointment Request (VAR) app is available to use at select locations and can be used with any compatible Web browser, whether on a desktop or mobile device.

Read more:  http://bit.ly/2q76l2k

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House Considers Measure to Trim Years off the VA Appeals Process

Veterans unhappy with their benefits payouts have a five-year average wait today if they appeal the decision.  House of Representatives lawmakers are hopeful that soon they can take years off that wait.  Members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee have debated draft legislation that would radically overhaul the Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits appeals process.  Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and other vet service organizations have addressed the Committee showing strong support for the legislation.

Read more:  http://bit.ly/2p34POm  AND  http://bit.ly/2pMuZUK

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Bill Would Expand VA Telehealth Services Across State Lines

Telehealth services for veterans have expanded dramatically in recent years, but a group of lawmakers worries that federal rules governing that remote care haven’t kept up.  A bipartisan group of House and Senate members have reintroduced legislation designed to boost access for veterans by easing those rules, arguing that patients in rural areas or facing travel difficulties are being disadvantaged.  As one representative said: “we should continue to find new ways to connect veterans with the providers that they need, no matter their physical location.”

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American Legion National Commander Addresses Joint Veterans Affairs Committee

American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt recently testified before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees. Schmidt said that at one point quality was the prevailing problem at the VA, not access, and that all worked together to turn VA into what is now described by patients and most experts as ‘the best care anywhere.’  An unpredicted result in many areas, however, became the long line to get appointments.  Improving access to care is now the challenge, and “there is …

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House Passes Four Bills to Help Vets With Broad Bipartisan Support

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman released the following statement after four bills to boost veteran employment, honor our nation’s heroes and improve veterans’ experience with VA’s claims process passed the House of Representatives with broad, bipartisan support:  “The men and women who have fought for our great nation should never have to struggle to find a job or stumble through VA’s claims process. These common sense bills will help us keep the promises we’ve made to our service members.”

Read more:  http://bit.ly/2lRd12b

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Veterans Affairs Is Allowed Exemptions From Federal Hiring Freeze

House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairmen sent a joint letter to President Trump regarding the Federal hiring freeze, saying that one of our government’s highest priorities is to provide timely, high-quality care to the men and women who have bravely served our nation in uniform, and that a robust clinical workforce is vital to achieving that goal. Subsequently, the Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary announced that the VA has exemptions to the hiring freeze that enable VA to fill essential positions and ensure that veterans …

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