By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, August 12, 2017, President Trump signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act S.114, sponsored by Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada).
According to the White House the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 authorizes and appropriates $2.1 billion to the Veterans Choice Fund, extends certain authorities as a partial offset for this appropriation, authorizes 28 major medical facilities leases, and changes a number of VA authorities related to personnel.
US Senator Luther Strange (R-Alabama) praised President Trump for signing the bill that Strange helped pass out of the Congress. Strange sponsored the VA Quality Employment Act of 2017 S.1550, which was combined with other legislation into this bill.
Sen. Strange said, “I’ve said it before – our veterans deserve the highest quality care that this country has to offer. I introduced S. 1550 so our heroes could count on reliable, comprehensive care from top-notch professionals. Alongside Chairman Isakson and my colleagues, I am happy that President Trump has taken swift action to enact this vital law on behalf of the millions of Americans who have served.”
Sen. Heller said, “I applaud the President for signing my bill to ensure Nevada’s veterans can continue using the Veterans Choice program.”
Sen. Heller added, “Nevada’s warriors have fought and served their country selflessly, and they should not be forced to jump through hoops when it comes to accessing the care and benefits they’ve earned. From chemotherapy to life-saving surgeries, this critical program allows Nevada’s veterans to receive medical services that the VA cannot provide and for veterans in rural areas to seek care closer to home.”
Heller is a senior member of the US Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and author of Legislation used to advance the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act. Several Senators and House members contributed to the bill.
Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) said, “I applaud the president for signing this important piece of legislation to ensure that veterans who utilize the Veterans Choice Program will continue to have access to timely appointments in their own communities.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) said, “This bill will ensure veterans can access critical health care services, whether it’s at the VA or at a nearby community clinic. It shows what’s possible when we work together, put politics aside, and commit ourselves to honoring those who courageously served our nation.”
Strange said, “Our veterans answered the nation’s call, and it is time to answer theirs.”
Sen. Isakson said, “I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for acting swiftly to reach an agreement to keep the program intact as we continue our work on broader reforms to strengthen the future of Veterans’ healthcare.”
According to Strange’s office, “The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act establishes staffing, recruitment, and retention programs to enable the VA to find, hire and retain the strongest workforce possible. It creates a recruiting database to make high-quality potential employees aware of positions at the VA and creates opportunities for career training and advancement for current VA employees through fellowship positions and a promotional track for technical experts. This legislation also authorizes the appropriation of funding to continue the Veterans Choice Program.”
According to Heller’s office, “The Choice Program ensures that veterans have access to certain services, including surgeries and life-saving treatments that the VA cannot provide. For example, Wendell, a Navy veteran from Lovelock, used the Choice Program to get a neck surgery to ensure he could still walk and John, an Air Force pilot from Battle Mountain, used the Choice Program to remove cancer above his neck.”
According to Strange’s office, the Legislation also authorizes 28 major medical facility leases, including in Birmingham, Alabama, and puts in place reforms introduced by Strange that strengthen the VA’s ability to recruit, train and retain their workforce.
The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 was passed unanimously by both the US Senate and the House of Representatives on Friday, July 28.