While President Donald Trump recently signed an emergency funding bill to continue the Veterans Choice program, lawmakers in South Texas say that money is likely to run out by the end of the year.
The law passed in 2014 and allows veterans who live beyond a 40 mile radius of a VA facility, or veterans who can't see a doctor at a VA facility within 30 days of the date recommended by their doctor, to seek private medical care using their VA benefits.
"The Veteran's Choice program has allowed us to provide a lot more care in the community than we've provided before," said Karla Strawn with the Audie Murphy Memorial Hospital.
Officials from Audie Murphy say that there were more than 40,000 authorizations for veterans to seek outside care through the choice program in 2016 in South Texas. They say that the number has been steadily increasing since the program was put into place in 2014.
Some lawmakers say that it's essential that the choice program continues past the end of this year when the emergency funding will likely run out.
"The Choice program should be there when the VA doesn't respond promptly on specialty care or other kinds of care so there is an alternative," Congressman Lloyd Doggett said. "The veterans I've talked to have been happy with it here."