Trump signs law to expand veterans' private health care options

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Supporters call it a sweeping, historic move designed to get veterans the care they need, but as Washington Correspondent Alana Austin reports, some worry more is less.

“It’s something that has been sorely needed for many many many years," said retired Major John Haynes.

Retired Marine John Haynes - a Purple Heart recipient - served in four conflicts. The Tallahassee hero says with the stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump better equipped the country to serve soldiers like him when they need care.

“To those who serve our nation, who risk life and limb for country, we must never be denied care access or treatment that they need," said Trump before signing the VA Mission Act in the Rose Garden of the White House Wednesday.

The new law makes it easier for veterans to get treatment covered outside of VA centers. Supporters of the change, like Haynes, say for many that will mean less travel to get their care.

“Many, many veterans and their families as a result of this bill will certainly live a much, much better life," said Haynes.

While the bill is now law – Congress hasn’t paid for it yet. Even if lawmakers do pony up the cash, not everyone’s convinced more options will help vets.

“I think the move towards privatization of VA health services would mean...less substantial care for veterans," said Corey Lanham, the Mid Atlantic collective bargaining director for the National Nurses United union.

Lanham, an Army veteran, says frequently the unique health needs of veterans can only be properly addressed at a VA facility. He worries opening up other options could force current VA facilities to close, compounding problems for those without another choice.

“We don’t think the private sector has the ability to do it,” said Lanham.

If all goes according to the Trump administration’s plan, new options for seriously injured veterans, walk-in clinic access, and opioid addiction treatment would all be available in a year.

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