Warner, Kaine urge action to authorize delayed VA leases
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined 16 of their Senate colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter urging congressional leaders to authorize leases for 24 Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) medical facilities before the end of the 114th Congress. Congress has not authorized major medical facility leases since 2014, which are necessary to enable the department to deliver vital care and services to veterans in Virginia and across the country. Most of these leases have been pending congressional approval for more than a year.
“Veterans in each of these states deserve the timely and quality health care benefits they have earned through their service. As such, we ask that you work to include authorization for these leases in the December funding bill, or another appropriate vehicle, to be signed into law this year,” the Senators wrote.
Under law, the Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) must receive specific legislative authorization to lease medical facilities with average annual rental payments in excess of $1 million. However, Congress has not, through a regular process, recently authorized any V-A major medical facility leases, hampering the ability of the V-A to provide much-needed health care and services to veterans around the country. Among the leases that are pending is a 155,000 square foot outpatient facility in Hampton Roads, Va., which has one of the fastest-growing veterans populations in the country. Patient visits in Hampton Roads’ service area increased by 30.5 percent from 2011 to September 2014, while the national average across the V-A system was 8.6 percent.
Full list of leases pending authorization include:
- Ann Arbor, MI – Outpatient Clinic
- Birmingham, AL – Outpatient Mental Health Clinic
- Birmingham, AL – Outpatient Specialty Clinic
- Boston, MA – Research Space
- Charleston, SC – Research Space
- Daytona Beach, FL – Outpatient Clinic
- Denver, CO – Chief Business Office Purchased Care
- Gainesville, FL – Outpatient Clinic
- Hampton Roads, VA – Outpatient Clinic
- Mission Bay, CA – Research Space
- Missoula, MT – Outpatient Clinic
- Northern Colorado, CO – Outpatient Clinic
- Ocala, FL – Outpatient Clinic
- Oxnard, CA – Outpatient Clinic
- Pike County, GA – Outpatient Clinic
- Portland, ME – Outpatient Clinic
- Raleigh, NC – Outpatient Clinic
- Santa Rosa, CA – Outpatient Clinic
- Jacksonville, FL – Outpatient Clinic
- Pontiac, MI – Outpatient Clinic
- Rochester, NY – Outpatient Clinic
- Tampa, FL – Outpatient Clinic
- Terre Haute, IN – Outpatient Clinic
Other Senators who signed the letter are Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
In September, Sens. Warner and Kaine introduced the Providing Veterans Overdue Care Act, which would authorize leases for medical facilities in 15 states.
A signed PDF of the letter is available here.