Senate agrees to extend VA's program of private-sector care
WASHINGTON - The Senate has approved legislation that would extend a program aimed at widening veterans' access to private-sector health care.
The bill passed by voice vote. It would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue operating its Choice program until its money runs out, expected early next year. Without legislation, the program will expire on Aug. 7 with nearly $1 billion left over. The VA says that money could be used to provide stopgap care until a revamp is designed.
The Choice program was put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal. It gave veterans expanded access to private providers but suffered long waits of its own.
The bill calls for fixes to help speed up VA payments and promote sharing of medical records.
It now goes to the House.