Roe Introduces Legislation to Reflect Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement Reached Last Month
Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced legislation based on the agreement he proposed including in the omnibus spending package last month.
H.R. 5674, the Department of Veterans Affairs Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks, or VA MISSION Act, includes three pieces of legislation that have been considered by either the House or Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs. The bill would streamline the department’s duplicative community care programs into one cohesive program; create a non-partisan process for reviewing VA’s assets to ensure veterans can access the care they have earned and expand the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Post-9/11 Caregiver Program to all eras. These reforms are supported by major Veterans Service Organizations. The bill also includes funding for the Choice Program that is expected to last until the new program authorized under the VA MISSION Act is implemented. In April, Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie informed Congress that the current account would run out of funds in early to mid-June, ending the Choice Program and potentially creating another access to care crisis.
Roe released the following statement:
“Today, I am introducing legislation that will ensure veterans have timely access to the care they have earned. These three important policies represent the pillars of a bipartisan, bicameral agreement reached last month, and I’d like to again thank Senators Isakson and Tester for their work and leadership on this package. This legislation must be passed, and if Congress fails to act veterans will pay for that failure. The VA MISSION Act is appropriately named, as it will put the department back on track to fulfilling President Lincoln’s promise to care for the men and women who have borne the battle. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to move this important package through the legislative process and to the president’s desk.”
Note: The committee is expected to consider this legislation at the markup on May 8, 2018. The bill broadly includes the Senate’s language on community care and caregivers and the House’s language on asset review, though the language has been changed slightly to address member concerns. The package also includes $5.2 billion to address the current funding shortfall in the Choice Program and fund the program until the new program is implemented next year. Additionally, the bill contains a number of provisions that would strengthen VA's internal capacity to provide timely, quality care to veteran patients within VA medical facilities by improving and expanding VA's ability to train, recruit and retain the very best providers.