Arizona veterans react to newly signed VA Mission Act

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Veterans who aren’t satisfied with the health care they get from the VA will now have more access to private care. A new law signed Wednesday marks the beginning of major changes for vets seeking care.

"Why aren't they going outside to see a doctor to take care of themselves and we pay the bill?" President Donald Trump said in the White House Rose Garden before signing the VA Mission Bill into law. 

[RELATED: Trump signs bill to expand private care at troubled VA]

”We’re allowing our veterans to get access to the best medical care available, whether it’s at the VA or at a private provider.”

The law had bipartisan support from Congress. One of the original whistle blowers at the Phoenix VA in 2014 and a avyN veteran herself, Paula Pedene says this law is a good first step in the right direction. As things stand now, veterans face a lot of hurdles to get private care that the VA cannot provide. Pedene described some of the processes she's had to go through.

"I had to go get a referral and then I’d have to wait and sometimes it was through one process and another time it was through a different process, and then another time it was through a different process. So what [the new law] does is it coalesces all the processes together.”

The new law should loosen up the restrictions on the current Choice program within the VA. Choice restricts access to private health care for veterans based on VA wait times and how far away the private care facility is.

"It could be a big deal if it works," said Vietnam veteran Jim Bibik, who lives in Surprise. He deals with Parkinson’s Disease, osteoporosis and a new kidney, among other things. He just hopes the changes will make things less confusing.

"Simplify it! Every decision they make goes through three or four or five people!” he said.

"They’re trying to make it simpler to get all the care you need without all of those restrictions," Pedene said. "That doesn’t mean there won’t be restrictions.”

The VA secretary is the one who will determine how all these changes play out. This law will cost more than $50 billion, and paying for it is where there’s some division in Congress. Many Democrats want new funding created for it while some Republicans think there should be cuts in other aspects of the VA in order to come up with the money.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.