August 01, 2014

Crapo Supports Final Veterans Care Bill

Says legislation beneficial to rural Idahoans

Washington, D.C.-Idaho Senator Mike Crapo supported compromise legislation to end lengthy wait times for veterans seeking medical care and increase accountability within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  By an overwhelming bipartisan majority, the United States Senate voted 91-3 to adopt the Senate-House conference report on the Veteran's Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014.

Notably to Idaho, the legislation, which Crapo co-sponsored, is particularly beneficial to those living in rural communities.  It would allow veterans who reside more than 40 miles away from a VA facility to seek health services outside of the system.

"Given the sacrifices our military men and women make, Congress must provide the necessary resources to our service personnel and their families," said Crapo.  "Although we are in a time of fiscal crisis with our national debt exceeding $17 trillion, we must do all that we can to identify the most holistic and responsible ways to provide the resources and benefits our military community needs and deserves.

"This legislation, though more work remains, takes a positive step in addressing the deep-seated problems plaguing the VA."

The Veteran's Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 makes the following improvements within the VA:

·         Allows veterans to seek private treatment if faced with long wait times at VA facilities;

·         Expands the VA secretary's ability to terminate or demote employees for poor performance;

·         Allows for the hiring of additional doctors and nurses;

·         Establishes two independent commissions to review and monitor veterans' access to care and VA construction projects;

·         Extends counseling and treatment to service members who suffered sexual trauma while serving on inactive duty training;

·         Requires VA to report on prevalence of domestic violence in the veteran population.

The bill now heads to the President's desk where it awaits signature before becoming law.