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Hold your fire: Vets Choice bill passes

EDITORIAL
July 31. 2017 10:40PM




It shouldn’t be this hard. If a veteran who has earned health care benefits from the federal government wants to go to a hospital outside the Veterans Administration system, why has it been so difficult to get that treatment authorized and that bill paid?

The VA system is a mess, top to bottom, and even the federal Veterans Choice Program meant to give veterans, well, a choice is mired in Washington dysfunction.

Last week, a bill to extend funding for the program failed in the House, prompting the usual partisan finger-pointing. Republican challenger Andy Sanborn accused Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of “disdain for New Hampshire’s veterans” by voting down a bill that was opposed by a number of veterans groups.

Sanborn should have held his fire. First of all, he should know that voting to spend money is not the same thing as compassion. And secondly, the House got its act together before going home for the August recess, and passed funding for Vets Choice.

Before everyone sprains their shoulder muscles patting themselves on the back, let’s look at what was actually accomplished.

The House passed a short-term funding extension for a program that the VA has yet to properly implement. Veterans still face long waits and red tape. The VA bureaucracy, and many veterans organizations, are still fighting efforts to make the department accountable.

But a short-term fix is better than nothing.


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