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Hon. Michael H. Michaud, Chairman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Maine

I would like to thank everyone for coming today.

Today’s legislative hearing will be the first of many this Subcommittee plans on holding to provide Members of Congress, veterans, the VA and other interested parties with the opportunity to discuss legislation within the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction in a clear and orderly process. 

I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with the bills before us today, but I believe that this is an important process that will encourage frank discussions and new ideas.

We have eleven bills before us and one discussion draft. 

The discussion draft represents some of my ideas to improve the quality of care available to our rural veterans and the ability to access that care such as:

Establishing mobile Vet Centers, improving information technology and technology sharing between VA and non-VA providers;

Establishing a Rural Veterans Advisory Committee;

Creating centers of excellence to encourage research and innovative health care to address the needs of rural veterans; and

Encourage more health care professionals to work in rural areas.

I look forward to hearing the views of our witnesses on this discussion draft and the other bills before us.

I also look forward to working with everyone here to improve the quality of care available to our veterans.