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President signs bill to help veterans, Tester main sponsor - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

President signs bill to help veterans, Tester main sponsor

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BILLINGS -

President Trump said it's time we take care of our veterans, as he signed a non-partisan bill, sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) on Wednesday.

The bill, that passed unanimously through the House and Senate, will extend the Veterans Choice Program, so veterans can get care from private doctors.

It's an amendment to a law enacted three years ago.

Tester is the primary sponsor of the bill that amends the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.

He said Republicans, Democrats and Independents supported the bill that he says will begin to fix the Choice Program.

The President signed the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act .

It allows veterans to access medical care from private doctors at private hospitals until the new Veterans Affairs Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin, develops a long-term plan that could let vets sidestep the VA entirely.

It also makes the VA the primary payer for non-service disability claims.

Trump and Tester said the bill makes it less difficult for veterans to get care.

"The Veterans Choice Program cuts red tape so veterans can access care more quickly,” Tester said.

“And in fact, I made it clear from the get-go that I would not vote to extend the choice program until Congress and the VA program address some of the biggest concerns that I've been hearing from Montana veterans and community providers," said Tester.

"This bill will extend and improve the Veterans Choice Program so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice, “ Trump said.

“You got it, the doctor of their choice and don't have to wait and travel long distances for VA care," he said.

The President said next week there will be a news conference to talk about veterans' issues.

Shulkin will talk about accomplishments with the program and what is ahead for veterans.

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