Donald Trump takes credit for veteran health care program implemented under Barack Obama

Per the AP’s fact-check, “Trump is not the first president in 45 years to get Congress to pass Veterans Choice"

Published May 28, 2019 12:40PM (EDT)

Barack Obama; Donald Trump (Getty/Scott Olson/AP/Evan Vucci)
Barack Obama; Donald Trump (Getty/Scott Olson/AP/Evan Vucci)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Last week at a campaign rally in Central Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump bragged about passing the Veterans Choice program. But the Associated Press is reporting that the program was actually passed during President Barack Obama’s second term.

“We passed VA Choice and VA Accountability to give our veterans the care that they deserve, and they have been trying to pass these things for 45 years,” Trump told the crowd in Pennsylvania. Veterans Choice, however, started in 2014, AP has noted.

According to AP’s fact-check, “Trump is not the first president in 45 years to get Congress to pass Veterans Choice; Obama did it in the wake of a scandal at VA’s medical center in Phoenix, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. The program currently allows veterans to see doctors outside the VA system if they must wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles — 65 kilometers — to a VA facility.”

AP is also reporting that Robert Wilkie, secretary of veterans affairs in the Trump Administration, has made a false statement about programs for military veterans. During an appearance on Fox News on May 23, Wilkie asserted, “the first thing I did was change out the leadership at VA . . . And as a result, the Journal of the American Medical Association this year said that our waiting times are now as good or better than any in the private sector.”

But according to AP, Wilkie is “distorting the facts” by saying that he improved waiting times at Veterans Affairs medical centers and added a new same-day mental health service for veterans. Those improvements, AP reports, came about during Obama’s presidency.

AP reports, “it’s true that a study by the medical association came out in January that found wait times at VA medical centers on average were better than the private sector. But the improvement wasn’t a ‘result’ of anything that Wilkie did: the study involved a period largely covering the Obama Administration — and before Wilkie became acting VA secretary in late March 2018.”

By Alex Henderson

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