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Opening Statement of Honorable Julia Brownley, Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Health

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Today, we have a full schedule that includes six bills before us that address some of the unique needs of our nation’s veterans’ population.  The bills pertain to a variety of areas that affect the lives of veterans every day and this Subcommittee has conducted many oversight hearings to understand the problems and then fix them.  

The first two bills on today’s agenda, including one of your proposals, Mr. Chairman, are pieces of draft legislation to address mental health concerns and increasing accountability at the VA.

The next bill, H.R. 241, the Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act, was introduced by Mr. Ross of Florida and pertains to timely organized and scheduled visits to VA Medical facilities.

H.R. 288, the CHAMPVA Children’s Protection Act of 2013sponsored by Mr. Michaud, Ranking Member of the Full Committee, would amend the maximum age for children to obtain medical care under CHAMPVA from 23 to 26 and effectively reflect the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010.  I will speak further on this bill during the first panel.

Next, H.R. 984, introduced by Mr. Guthrie of Kentucky, would direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a National Taskforce on Urotrauma.

And finally, my bill, H.R. 1284, the Veterans Medical Access Act, would provide better access for blind and severely disabled veterans who need to travel long distances to obtain care at a special rehabilitation center.  Oftentimes blind and catastrophically disabled veterans choose not to travel to VA medical centers for care because they cannot afford the costs associated with the travel.  Currently, the VA is required to cover the cost of transportation for veterans requiring medical care for service-connected injuries.  H.R. 1284 would extend these travel benefits to a veteran with vision impairment, a veteran with a spinal cord injury or disorder, or a veteran with double or multiple amputations whose travel is in connection with care provided through a special disabilities rehabilitation program of the VA.  Our disabled veterans have already made the greatest of sacrifices and I firmly believe, as I am sure many people in the room here today do, that no veteran should be denied needed medical care.

I thank all of the Members for their thoughtful legislation and I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for including my bill here today.  

Thank you and I yield back.