Isakson, Tester Statement on Legislation to Continue Veterans Choice Program

Legislation provides critical funding to ensure veterans have continued access to care in the community, authorizes medical facility leases, bolsters VA medical workforce recruitment efforts

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today released the following statement after leading the way to broker a bipartisan, bicameral deal that provides critical funding to continue the Veterans Choice Program:

“The Veterans Choice Program was created to ensure that veterans could receive timely appointments in their own communities,” said Isakson and Tester in a joint statement. “We are glad that veterans will continue to have access to care without interruption and that the VA will be able to improve the delivery of care by addressing critical infrastructure and medical staffing needs. While this is only a short-term fix to the problem, we pledge to continue working together to address the various barriers to timely care for our nation’s veterans. We thank all of our colleagues, especially Senators McCain and Moran, who helped reach this important agreement, and we look forward to our continued collaboration in the future.”

The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 authorizes and appropriates $2.1 billion for the Veterans Choice Fund. The legislation also authorizes 28 major medical facility leases and puts in place reforms that strengthen the VA’s ability to recruit, train and retain their workforce.

The bill is expected to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, July 28. If approved, the Senate must follow suit and pass the measure before Aug. 15, 2017, the date the VA informed Congress that the critical program would run out of funding.

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The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress.Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as more than 750,000 veterans.