Congress passes VA health care coverage bill

Congress passes VA health care coverage bill

(WAFF) - Congress has passed a bill expanding private health care coverage as an alternative to the troubled Veterans Affairs health system.

"When a veteran is not able to be seen by a VA physician and some veterans are dying that is kind of horrific," said Army veteran LaShay White.

White hasn't had that bad of a wait time to see a doctor. She said the worst was when she first retired and it took six months to see a dentist.

"When you serve your country, say for myself, for 25 years there should be options. You should be able to go see who you want to see as long as that provider can see you," she said.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the VA Mission Act in the coming days.

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The act is a major overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It's expected to improve health care for veterans when and where they need it.

"For me, what I do is that we have a number that we call and you make an appointment or the appointment options or days are given to you and normally it's whatever is available is given to you. You can choose it," said White.

With approval of a Department of Veterans Affairs health provider, veterans will be able to see a private doctor at the VA's expense if they have to wait longer than 30 days for a VA appointment or if the VA medical centers don't offer the services they need.

Also, veterans can go to any physician if they live more than 40 miles from a VA health care facility.

Last year, 14,790 Alabamians used the Choice Program.

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