Alexa

VA secretary urges extension of troubled choice program

VA secretary urges extension of troubled choice program

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is urging Congress to act quickly to extend a troubled program aimed at widening access to private-sector care. He is pointing to veterans' growing demand for medical treatment outside the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Shulkin is to testify later Tuesday on the level of private-sector care the federal government pays for.

Shulkin acknowledges that the choice program put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal has had problems. But Shulkin says due to improvements, more than 1 million veterans now use some choice care.

He says Congress must hurry to extend the program beyond its Aug. 7 expiration date, or the VA will lose access to nearly $1 billion leftover in that account. Shulkin says that money is needed until a broader revamp is designed.