Hudson, Ruppersberger Introduce Bill to Improve Veterans Health Care

May 17, 2016 
Hudson, Ruppersberger Introduce Bill to Improve Veterans Health Care
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, U.S. Representatives Richard Hudson (NC-08) and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02) introduced the bipartisan Care Veterans Deserve Act of 2016 (H.R. 5262) to expand access to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) while enhancing choice, flexibility and quality in veterans’ health care.
“I have long said we have to break the bureaucratic stronghold at the VA by first allowing veterans the option of seeking private care in their own communities,” said Rep. Hudson.“This legislation will do that while empowering veterans with more choice and flexibility so they can get the quality and timely health care they have earned. This is a significant step to end the backlogs, wait-times and red tape nightmare that too many veterans face every day. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to give veterans more control over their health care and will work with my colleagues in both chambers to get it signed into law.”
“The VA backlogs in Baltimore and around the country are slowly improving, but we still have a lot of work to do on behalf of our nation’s heroes,” said Rep. Ruppersberger.“I have witnessed first-hand the frustration that many veterans feel while trying to accomplish what should be simple tasks like making doctor’s appointments and filling prescriptions. This bipartisan bill will help us make good on our promise to give veterans the very best care and quality of life possible.”
Reps. Hudson and Ruppersberger have been staunch advocates for fixing the VA by first allowing veterans with service-connected disabilities to choose care from private providers in their local communities and having the VA pay for it.
This bill would seek to do that by making the pilot Veterans Choice Card program enacted by the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 permanent while expanding eligibility to veterans with a 50% service-connected disability rating or higher. The bill aims to further address the continued backlog of VA appointments across the country by:   
·         Allowing visits to walk-in clinics without prior authorization or copayment by veterans;
·         Extending VA pharmacy hours to nights and weekends;
·         Opening VA hospitals to volunteer community providers interested in working with veterans during their off-hours;
·         Expanding the use of telemedicine at the VA.
The legislation is companion legislation to S. 2896, which was introduced by U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).
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