Missoula Current: Tester bills boost VA funding, pay for larger patient clinic in Missoula

For now, Sen. Jon Tester said, Montana veterans can celebrate.

A suite of bills passed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday night will inject needed funding into the struggling Choice Program and give the Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Missoula money to expand.

The measures will also help the VA confront its growing patient backlog by addressing the recruitment and retention of VA workers. It also lets veterans choose the disability appeals option that works best for them.

Tester, who crafted the bills as a ranking member of the Senate VA Committee, expects the president to sign both measures.

“It’s the final step, in some cases, of years of work,” Tester told the Missoula Current on Wednesday morning. “We were able to get some positive things done to build the VA’s capacity, whether it’s leases or whether it’s expedited hiring, or making sure they can boost salaries for physician assistants, and there’s Choice stuff too. We’re heading in the right direction.”