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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, voted to advance legislation to consolidate and improve access to veterans’ healthcare services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and in the communities where veterans live, work and seek medical care.

The Caring for our Veterans Act of 2017, introduced by Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT), would establish a permanent, streamlined ‘Veterans Community Care Program’ to ensure access to timely and quality care.

“This legislation builds off the improvements made by the Choice program so we can provide the best care available to our veterans. We have a responsibility to take care of the men and women who served in uniform. This helps make good on the promise we made to our veterans,” Boozman said. 

The legislation incorporates provisions Boozman pushed for including:

  • Improving the VA’s third-party fee collection. This will help the VA recover its costs for providing non-service connected care at VA facilities and will help ensure that funding for VA healthcare remains available for veterans.
  • Ensuring that community care providers who have already gone through extensive processes to care for veterans can continue to do so without undergoing duplicative procedures to participate in the new program.
  • Allowing industry partners to perform certain VA functions, like the processing of claims for community healthcare, so that the VA can better focus it’s time and resources on providing healthcare to veterans.  
  • Allowing veterans who seek care in the community and are prescribed medications to fill initial, short-term prescriptions without requiring the veteran to go to a VA facility. 

The Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017 as amended was passed 14-1 by the committee. The legislation now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

The legislation is supported by The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Wounded Warrior Project.

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