WASHINGTON — Leading veterans groups are opposing House lawmakers plans to extend the Veterans Affairs Choice program with emergency funding, saying the plan unfairly shifts needed monies away from department programs.
But supporters say the move simply keeps the much-needed health care program
afloat while lawmakers sort-out long term fixes, and that blocking the move could harm thousands of veterans.
In a letter sent out Saturday, leaders from a coalition of eight veterans groups said they oppose a House plan set for votes Monday that would provide about $2 billion for VA Choice services for the next six months. The funds would come from trims to other VA
programs, an offset that the groups said are not in themselves a problem.
However, the groups said they oppose “legislation that includes funding only for the ‘Choice’ program which provides additional community care options, but makes no investment in VA and uses ‘savings’ from other veterans benefits or services to pay for the Choice program.”
They see using savings from VA program changes to pay for additional outside VA care as a step toward privatization of the department, a charge that administration and congressional officials have repeatedly denied.
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