THURSDAY, May 24, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Patients served by the beleaguered Veterans Affairs health system may have wider access to private care, thanks to a bill approved Wednesday by the Senate. President Donald Trump is known to support the bill, which now awaits his signature.

The Senate passed the bill on a 92 to 5 vote, thereby also avoiding a shutdown of the VA’s Choice private-sector program, the Associated Press said. That program was expected to run out of funding by next week, which would have necessitated cutbacks in care to veterans.

The new bill would open up access to private doctors for veterans who don’t feel they are getting the care they expect within the VA — with the approval of a VA health care provider. This would include situations where roadblocks to care exist, such as lengthy wait times or VA medical centers that lack services required by a particular patient.

“Senate passage today of legislation reforming VA Choice is a victory for our veterans — continuing our commitment to honor their service and providing them with the best care available,” David O. Barbe, M.D., president of the American Medical Association, said in a May 23 statement. “The American Medical Association believes every veteran deserves timely, accessible, high quality health care — whether within or outside the VA system. The bipartisan leadership from the Veterans Affairs committees in both chambers produced a bill that is worthy of our veterans.”

AMA Statement
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