Bill to help rural veterans with VA healthcare access passes Senate Committee

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Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 11:47 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Sen. Moran’s bill to help ensure rural veterans get more timely healthcare from the VA has passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) says on Wednesday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted to pass the Guaranteeing Healthcare Access to Personnel Who Served Act, which he introduced. He said the bill would address gaps in veteran healthcare to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs serves veterans in hard-to-reach places, such as rural areas.

According to Sen. Moran, the legislation works to create uniform access standards for care in the community to help veterans receive timely care, remove barriers and mandate a VA telehealth strategy to incorporate and apply lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to close gaps in VA healthcare.

“While I believe the MISSION Act access standards used to determine eligibility are working, I agreed to remove the provision in the bill to codify these standards as the department works to carry out its assessment of the eligibility access standards, as mandated by MISSION,” said Sen. Moran. “While I still believe that codification of MISSION’s eligibility standards that veterans have come to rely on is the right course of action, I am pleased that the bill still includes language that would ensure veterans can receive timely community care. I will continue working to pass the GHAPS Act in the Senate to make certain our veterans continue to have access to the programs that are working for them no matter where they live.”

Sen. Moran said the legislation was co-sponsored by Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

According to the Kansas Senator, the legislation would close VA healthcare gaps by doing the following:

  • Incorporating access standards for community care delivery to ensure veterans receive timely care in the community across the Community Care Network.
  • Directing the VA to create a telehealth strategy plan to ensure it deploys virtual care thoughtfully by using innovative solutions to deliver telehealth to rural veterans.
  • Ensuring all veterans with treatment-resistant depression have access to evidence-based care to put them on the path to recovery.
  • Cutting red tape for research by removing the Paperwork Reduction Act requirements to ensure veterans benefit from more timely research-informed care.
  • Directing the Government Accountability Office to produce a report on the Foreign Medical Program to decide if the program adequately meets the needs of overseas veterans.

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