Senate OKs emergency spending package to fund Veterans Choice program

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The bill will now be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.

The Senate approved an emergency spending package on Tuesday to continue funding the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to receive treatment from a private physician if the closest VA facility is too far away from where they live.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill to provide $2.1 billion to fund the Veterans Choice program, which was in danger of running out of money by mid-August. Another $1.8 billion would go to other VA health programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities.

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“We simply cannot afford to let this program expire and send our veterans back to the status quo of never-ending wait-times for appointments and substandard care. The Senate's passage of this bill to preserve the Veterans Choice Program is an important step forward," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., according to an AP report.

VA Secretary David Shulkin previously said the additional funding will help bring new facilities closer to where veterans live, so care and access will be more convenient. The Veterans Choice program was created in 2014 following a nationwide scandal that revealed thousands of veterans waited months to receive care at VA facilities.

The House approved the bill on Friday. The spending package will now be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.