Veterans Groups Urge House to Reject VA Budget PlanAssociated Press
by Hope Yen
23 Jul 2017
Eight major veterans' organizations on Saturday urged Congress to provide emergency money to the Department of Veterans Affairs -- without cutting other VA programs -- as the House moved quickly to address a budget shortfall that threatened medical care for thousands of patients.
An Air Force senior master sergeant greets a Marine Corps veteran at the North Dakota Veteran's Nursing Home in Lisbon, N.D. Under the new VA budget plan, pensions would be reduced for some veterans in nursing homes. (US Air Force photo/David Lipp)
Their joint statement was issued after the House Veterans Affairs Committee unveiled a plan Friday that would shift $2 billion from other VA programs to continue funding the department's Choice program. Put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital, Choice provides veterans with federally paid medical care outside the VA.
To offset spending, the VA would trim pensions for some veterans and collect fees for housing loans.
The veterans' groups criticized the plan as unacceptable privatization. They urged the House to embrace a bill that "ensures veterans' health care is not interrupted in the short term, nor threatened in the long term."
A House vote is scheduled for Monday. VA Secretary David Shulkin has warned that without congressional action, the Choice program would run out of money by mid-August.
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