This piece is part of Fighting for Our Lives: The Movement for Medicare for All, a Truthout original series. As Senate Republicans' Affordable Care Act repeal bill threatens more than 441,300 veterans' Medicaid coverage by 2026, new proposals by the Trump administration and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin also threaten the nation's largest, integrated, government-run health care system: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Secretary Shulkin unveiled a proposal before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on June 7 for the creation of a "Veterans Coordinated Access Rewarding Experience" program to replace the unpopular 2014 Veterans Choice Program, which will sunset in August. Fighting for Our Lives: The Movement for Medicare for AllThe new proposal eliminates mandates that were originally required under the Choice program. Under that program, veterans could only select a private-sector doctor if they had to wait 30 days or more for care from the VA, or had to drive more than 40 miles to a VHA facility. Under the new proposal, veterans and VHA providers will discuss every decision about care, and decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether care at the VHA would be better than the private sector. The plan, combined with President Trump's overall VA budget, would ultimately push more veterans into the private sector as the VHA is stripped of needed resources. If the trend continues, it could eventually lead to the dismantling of the VHA system entirely, according to The Hill.
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