A presidential order extended the Veterans Choice Act on Wednesday to set the stage for a push in Congress to expand the program and allow more access to private care for veterans.
Signed in an Oval Office ceremony, the bill continues the Choice program, which was to expire on Aug. 7, and allows for the expenditure of the remaining $950 million in the program.
The Choice Card program allowed Vets facing lengthy wait times at Veterans Administration facilities or living more than 40 miles from the nearest VA to seek care in the private sector. Those already in the program will not need to re-apply under the bill signed by Trump, VA officials said.
The new bill -- the Veterans Choice Improvement Act -- addressed a major complaint of veterans service organizations by directing the VA to cover co-pays and deductibles directly for private care rather than reimbursing veterans for paying up front.
The bill extends and improves the Veterans Choice Program so that more Veterans can see the doctor of their choice and Veterans will not have to wait and travel long distances for VA care.
VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin, the only holdover in the Obama administration in the Trump Cabinet and the only cabinet member to win unanimous confirmation in the Senate, said at the signing ceremony that the Choice extension was a precursor of "the great things that are to come to fulfill the prior commitments that have been made to Veterans."
VCP Phone Line Imposter Posted May 2, 2017
It has come to VA’s attention that a phone line has been set up by an unknown party to potentially "mimic" the VCP phone line. This imposter phone line may be intended to reach Veterans who inadvertently dial the VCP number incorrectly.
We want you to know that we are taking this seriously and to keep you aware of the steps we are taking.. VHA Office of Community Care (VHA CC) has reported the “mimic” line to the VA Office of Inspector General for a possible civil or criminal investigation.
“Mimic” Phone Line
The phone line established to “mimic” the VCP phone line is 1-800-606-8198. You know you have reached the wrong VCP phone line when:
· The phone line offers callers a $100 rebate if the caller provides a credit card.
· The phone line does not state the caller has reached U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the VCP phone line.
Be aware that this phone number incorrectly confirms callers had reach the VCP if the caller asks that question.
VCP Phone Line
The correct VCP phone line is 1-866-606-8198. This line is for Veterans to check their eligibility for the VCP and ask questions about the program.
If you are unsure if you have reached the correct phone line, hang up and dial 1-866-606-8198 again. The phone line will state the called has reach the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.