VA secretary optimistic Congress will plug VA's budget gap

AP News
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Posted: Jul 23, 2015 6:10 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald says he's optimistic Congress will act soon to address a looming budget crisis that could force the shutdown of some VA hospitals.

McDonald said during a visit Thursday to the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis that he's "quite confident" that by the end of next week Congress will approve transferring up to $3 billion from the new Veterans Choice program to close a $2.5 billion agency budget shortfall.

The Veterans Choice program has spurred a surge in demand among veterans for health care services by making it easier for them to receive federally paid medical care from local doctors.

That program was the centerpiece of the VA overhaul Congress approved last year following a scandal over veterans' long waits for medical care.