The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs today held a hearing on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ current budget, which reportedly faces a $2.6 billion shortfall. In a letter to the committee, AHA urged Congress to reject any requests by the department to redirect funding for the Veterans Choice program to other VA programs. “Hospitals and health systems providing care for veterans in their communities through the program have invested resources to execute contracts and ensure veterans have access to care,” wrote AHA Senior Vice President Tom Nickels. “We believe that veterans using the Veterans Choice Program and those who will use it in the future should have continuity of care and should not be cut off from the program due to lack of funding.” AHA also urged the VA to further reconsider its interpretation of the program’s 40-mile rule and definition of the closest VA medical facility “to ensure veterans receive the care they need at the time they need it.” Congress last year authorized $10 billion for the Veterans Choice program over three years to subsidize care outside the VA system for veterans waiting more than 30 days for treatment or living at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic.