Hoeven: Senate Passes Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Address VA Health Care Challenges

Senator Continues Push to Allow Veterans More Options for Health Care and Long-Term Care Services in Their Home Communities

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate voted 91 to 3 to pass bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reform the Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) and ensure veterans receive timely care. The bill is the result of a Senate-House conference committee created in June to reach a compromise agreement between legislation both chambers had passed earlier this summer. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the compromise legislation yesterday, and the president is expected to sign the bill into law.

“Ensuring our veterans have access to health care services that meet their needs is a top priority,” said Hoeven. “The compromise legislation that has now passed the Senate and House addresses many of the problems we’re seeing at the VA. It provides more access to servicers through the VA, but also access to local health care providers for our veterans and requires accountability for the VA. It’s an important step forward, but there’s more to do.”

The Veterans Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 includes provisions to improve accountability and transparency at the VA, including provisions to reform the way performance reviews are used and to make more information available to patients and the public.

The legislation also provides veterans with more access to health care. Enrolled veterans will now have the option to receive care from a non-VA provider at the department’s expense if they cannot schedule an appointment within the established VA wait time goals or if they live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility. A Veterans Choice Card will be provided to eligible veterans to use when seeing non-VA providers.

Hoeven said more remains to be done. He has been leading efforts to ensure that veterans can access a nearby health care provider if their local CBOC or VAMC cannot provide the required service. He  met recently with newly confirmed VA Secretary Robert McDonald to press for his support to implement a policies administratively that would allow veterans more options for health care and long-term care (LTC) services in their home communities.

The senator has also been holding roundtable discussions throughout the winter and spring across North Dakota to meet with veterans to hear firsthand their experiences with the VA, as well as their ideas for improving service, and he is working to implement a legislative fix that allows veterans to receive needed services closer to home.

The legislation is supported by major veterans service organizations, including the American Legion, Amvets, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, Concerned Veterans for America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Hoeven serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.