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Committee Passes Legislation to Improve Veterans’ Access to Care

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Washington, December 19, 2017 | Tiffany Haverly (202-225-3527) | comments

Today, Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed legislation to streamline VA’s community care accounts into one veteran-centric program that replaces the Choice Program, removing the current 30-day, 40-mile requirement to give veterans more timely access to community care: 

“For the last eleven months, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has worked tirelessly on behalf of our nation’s heroes. We’ve held more than 50 public hearings, visited numerous facilities around the country and worked together to tackle the tough issues. I’m pleased my legislation, the VA Care in the Community Act, has been sent to the full House for consideration. This legislation is cosponsored by every member of the committee – Republican and Democrat – so you can imagine my disappointment in the members of this committee who walked back their commitment to moving this bill. 

“When I give someone my word, I keep it. My commitment to doing the right thing for our nation’s veterans has never faltered. I am a conservative Republican, but every time I walk into the hearing room or into a meeting with my friends across the aisle, I do so with an open mind. I work to find consensus and try to move legislative proposals we can all support without asking any member of this committee to compromise their principles, even when there are differences. The fact is that every member of the committee signed their name to this legislation, but only one side showed up to do the hard work that needed to be done today. With that said, if my friends on the other side of the aisle choose to move the goal posts and walk back their support for a bill they agreed to cosponsor, we’ll move forward without them. That’s what we’ve done today, and I thank the members who voted to give veterans the health care choices they deserve.    

“Moving forward, I realize the Senate Committee has also moved legislation to reform VA’s community care programs, and I am confident we’ll be able to come to a bicameral agreement to expand veterans’ options for care. This process will undoubtedly continue in the second session, and I hope the Democrats on this committee will return in January and negotiate in good faith to give veterans the health care they deserve.” 

H.R. 4242: The VA Care in the Community Act

The VA Care in the Community Act would consolidate VA’s existing community care programs into one cohesive program and would modernize VA’s medical claims processing system to ensure that community providers can expect to be paid on time for the care they provide to veterans on VA’s behalf. It would further require VA to conduct periodic local capacity and market assessments to identify how gaps in care can be addressed through improvements to both internal and external capacity, standardize the rates VA pays to community providers and authorize VA to enter into provider agreements for needed care when contracts are not available or achievable. This legislation is cosponsored by every member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.

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