House Votes Unanimously to Extend VA Choice Program for 6 Months

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Source:  Military.com/Richard Sisk

After failing in the first try earlier this week, the House unanimously passed a $3.9 billion bill Friday to extend the Veterans Choice Program on private care for six months.

The 419-0 vote on the emergency spending measure came after the Senate worked out a deal with House negotiators to add an amendment to the bill on the leasing of 28 new VA facilities in 17 states to overcome the objections of the veterans service organizations (VSOs).

The bill that passed and was sent to the Senate for quick approval included $2.1 billion for Choice, which allows veterans to seek private or community health care, and $1.8 billion for the 28 new medical leases and new health care specialist hires.

Funding for Choice was due to run out in mid-August, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. On Monday, the House tried and failed to pass a Choice extension that would have been paid for by trimming pensions for Medicaid-eligible veterans and a variety of other fees.

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