May 29, 2007


Commitment to Bring Health Care Closer to More Veterans Called 'Good News'

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Larry Craig, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Senator Mike Crapo along with Congressman Bill Sali announced today that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to open a new community-based clinic in the Kootenai/Bonner County area. The final determination will be made by VA officials after final site analysis."It could open sometime this year but if a building has to be built, it could be sometime next year. The bottom line, though, is that a facility is coming to provide health care to veterans in North Idaho. That will save them time and money since they won't have to travel as often to Spokane. I'm very pleased with this Memorial Day announcement," said Craig, who serves as the top Republican on the Senate committee which oversees the Veterans Administration.The new clinic in North Idaho is part of trend in the Gem State. VA officials have recently announced the expansion of similar medical clinics for veterans in Lewiston and Caldwell."Two years ago, as Chairman of the Committee, I asked VA officials to assess Idaho's needs, and it's clear that they are seeing what I saw, which is a greater need for services for veterans throughout our state," Craig said. "In April I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new veterans clinic in Caldwell and veterans in Lewiston will see their new clinic open sometime later this summer."Crapo said, "This new facility in northern Idaho will provide care to thousands of patients. I am pleased that the VA recognizes that Idaho veterans will benefit greatly from access to local care; just as we recognize the contributions veterans have made to our country."The new facility is part of an effort by the VA to provide more local care to veterans, especially in rural areas. In VA jargon, the new facility is known as a "CBOC," a Community Based Outreach Clinic, and VA officials say that the new Idaho clinic will provide care to 5,860 existing patients and 644 new patients."Veterans deserve the best care we can provide, as close to them as we can provide it. Like Sen. Craig and Sen. Crapo, I am really pleased that VA officials have chosen to locate a new clinic in the northern part of my district," Sali said.With 153 hospitals and more than 700 community-based clinics, VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the country. VA's health care budget of more than $34 billion this year will provide health care to about 5.5 million people during nearly 800,000 hospitalizations and 60 million outpatient visits."VA is committed to providing world-class health care to the men and women who have served this nation," VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said. "These new clinics will bring VA's top-notch care closer to the veterans who have earned it."Craig will be traveling with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson this coming week to honor American veterans buried in Europe. The two will also meet with servicemen and women in Germany, and visit with those recently wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and being treated at the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.