Deal reached to fix VA budget crisis after vets protest

Congressional Republicans and Democrats reached agreement Thursday on a $3.9 billion emergency spending package to fill a shortfall in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ program of private-sector care, seeking to avert a disruption to medical care for thousands of veterans.

The deal includes additional money for core VA health programs, something insisted on by veterans’ groups.

The plan sets aside $2.1 billion over six months to continue funding the Choice program, which provides federally paid medical care outside the VA and is a priority of President Donald Trump. VA Secretary David Shulkin has warned that without legislative action Choice would run out of money by mid-August, causing delays in health care.

The plan sets aside $2.1 billion over six months to continue funding the Choice program, which provides federally paid medical care outside the VA and is a priority of President Donald Trump.

The proposal also would devote $1.8 billion to authorize 28 leases for new VA medical facilities and establish programs to make it easier to hire health specialists. That cost would be paid for by trimming pensions for some Medicaid-eligible veterans and collecting fees for housing loans.

A House vote was planned Friday, before members were to begin a five-week recess. The Senate is finishing up business for two more weeks and would also need to approve the measure.

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