Lawmakers to take on veterans issues after weeklong recess

Lawmakers

BY NIKKI WENTLING

As they return this week from a July Fourth break, lawmakers are set to discuss Department of Veterans Affairs health care, its 2018 budget, how veterans are affected by the opioid crisis and how the VA handles claims for Gulf War Illness – all while facing a short timeframe to do something about quickly diminishing funds in the VA Choice program.

VA Secretary David Shulkin warned lawmakers June 16 that money was unexpectedly running out for the Choice program, which allows veterans to seek health care outside the VA. Despite projecting the VA would roll over $626 million for Choice funding into the next fiscal year, Shulkin said the fund would be depleted by Aug. 7.

He attributed the faster spending to the increased popularity of the program among veterans this year.

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