Shulkin urges emergency aid for VA private health care soon

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a fresh warning, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin says there could potentially be delays in providing medical care to tens of thousands of veterans if lawmakers don't act soon to approve billions in emergency funding for the ailing private-sector Choice program.

In a statement, Shulkin says he is heartened by several bills that would provide longer-term fixes by giving veterans wider freedom to see private doctors. But noting the lack of clear consensus, Shulkin says he would be "open" to short-term funding for now before year's end, "to ensure our veterans receive uninterrupted care."

He adds, "Congress needs to pass a bill this year."

Lawmakers are wrestling over Choice legislation amid disagreements over cost and how much access veterans should have to private doctors.