Robert Hurt: Making strides toward enhancing veterans healthcare
Like all Fifth District Virginians, I have been deeply disturbed by recent discoveries of unacceptable practices at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare facilities. Last week, an audit of VA facilities found that more than 57,000 veterans are still waiting for their first appointment. We also learned that tens of thousands of veterans wait at least 90 days for medical care. This audit provides further insight into the structural issues within the agency, which have resulted in tragic and fatal outcomes for our veterans. These troubling findings indicate that we must improve care for those who have made countless sacrifices to protect our nation’s freedoms.
I am pleased to report that last week, the House once again took action to address the situation at the VA and enhance our veterans’ access to timely and effective health care. On a bipartisan vote, the House passed the Veterans Access to Care Act, which directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to contract with private health care providers and allow veterans who have experienced excessively long wait times or live over 40 miles from a VA medical facility to see physicians outside of the VA system. The following day, the Senate passed a very similar bill.
I am encouraged by the fact that the House and the Senate have come together in a bipartisan way to pass legislation that will immediately enhance access to healthcare for our veterans in the short-term. In the meantime, we must also continue our efforts to comprehensively reform the VA health care system in the long run. Much more work is needed to change the culture at the VA to make it a more accountable and effective agency. Congress must also continue its rigorous oversight of the VA to ensure that it is implementing the necessary changes and carrying out its mission to provide excellent care to the men and women who have served us so bravely.
It is my hope that by passing this legislation, we will be able to make real and meaningful strides toward fixing the many problems we currently face with regard to the care our veterans receive. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to fulfill our commitment to those who serve.
If you need any additional information, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.