The Veterans' Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 was signed into law by President Obama on August 7. A too-rare example of bipartisan cooperation, the law provides $16 billion to address the urgent and chronic problems that have come to light at the troubled Veterans Affairs Department. "This will not and cannot be the end of our effort. Implementing this law will take time,” the President said. “Even as we focus on the urgent reforms we need at the VA right now, particularly around wait lists and the health care system, we can’t lose sight of our long-term goals for our service members and our veterans.”
Of the $16 billion allocated in the bill, $10 billion will be used to allow veterans to see private doctors, at government expense, over the next three years. The private option is open only to those veterans who (1) face a waiting period in excess of one month to see a doctor at a V.A. clinic or hospital; or (2) live more than 40 miles from a facility. Eligible veterans will be receiving a "choice card" that will allow them to receive services outside the V.A. system.
The law also allots $1.3 billion to open 27 new clinics nationwide, and $5 billion to hire additional doctors, nurses and other medical staff. The V.A. is tasked with fleshing out the details of the law within three months.