WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a combat veteran, issued the following statement after the United States Senate passed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017:

“Our veterans deserve timely access to high quality health care no matter where they are located,” said Senator Ernst. “The VA Choice program can work to improve access and choice when it comes to veterans’ care, particularly for our disabled and rural veterans. I applaud the passage of the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act for putting the access to quality and timely care for our veterans first.”

The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 provides critical funding to the Veterans Choice Fund, therefore extending the VA Choice Program for an additional six months. The VA Choice Program authorizes veterans who live farther than 40 miles from a VA facility, or those who cannot get an appointment with the VA in under 30 days, to access care outside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. Additionally, this legislation authorizes 28 major medical facility leases and puts in place reforms to strengthen the VA’s ability to train, recruit and retain its workforce. This important legislation now heads to the President’s desk.