Rep Cook Votes to Extend VA Choice Act
WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted for S. 114, the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House, and the Senate previously passed this bill in May.
The Veterans Choice Program was enacted in 2014 and provided $10 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow veterans to receive health care from private care facilities rather than VA hospitals. It was originally scheduled to expire in August of this year, but this past April, Congress and the President eliminated the program’s sunset so veterans could continue to receive private care. This legislation provides an additional $2.1 billion in funding to extend the program for approximately six more months, ensuring that veterans benefiting from this program will continue to receive care. The bill also authorizes 28 major medical facility leases and enhances the recruitment, retention, and training of the VA workforce. It requires the VA to conduct an annual performance plan for political appointees and to develop a plan to hire highly qualified directors for medical centers that have not had permanent leadership.
Rep. Cook said, “The VA Choice Act has been crucial for helping our veterans get the care they deserve. This legislation will ensure that we continue funding this important program which provides our nation’s heroes with timely medical care rather than enduring long wait times at the VA.”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.