July 19, 2017

Veterans Service Organizations Offer Support for Crapo Veterans Health Administration Legislation

Crapo's Legislation Supported by Service Groups Including American Veterans (AMVETS), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Mike Crapo recently provided written testimony to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee as it considered his legislation, S. 1279, the Veterans Health Administration Reform Act, and other pending legislation affecting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Administration.  During the hearing, members of various Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) provided veteran-based insight.  VSOs expressed strong support for Crapo’s legislation to provide better care to veterans across the nation.

 “We need accessible non-VA community care that is responsive to the needs of veterans in both communities with many resources and communities with fewer services and providers,” said Crapo in written testimony provided to the Committee.  “I thank the committee for its thoughtful consideration of this legislation and look forward to working together to come up with reforms that meaningfully impact the lives of servicemembers.”

 Crapo introduced S. 1279 using responses from his two statewide veterans’ surveys and information from congressionally-mandated reports suggesting how veterans health care could be improved through the VA.  The bill builds upon legislation Crapo introduced last year to establish the “Care in the Community” program, which he would like to see replace the Veterans Choice Program.  S. 1279 would streamline non-VA care and allow veterans to seek care in the private sector if certain factors are present such as longer than normal wait times, distance needed to travel in order to receive care or if more affordable cost options are available.

 American Veterans (AMVETS), the largest and oldest VSO open to all veterans, endorsed Crapo’s measure, “because of the agreement to provide non-VA care for those living an excessive distance from Department medical centers.” 

 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), whose membership includes veterans who served the U.S. in expeditions on foreign soil or waters, offered a statement of support for Crapo’s legislation because it “rightfully base[s] eligibility for the proposed Care in the Community Program on whether receiving care through community providers is in the clinical best interest of the veteran.” 

 Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) commended the goal and intention of S. 1279 to better serve veterans.  The American Legion thanked Senator Crapo for taking a lead in drafting legislation addressing veterans health care, and called on senators to work together in delivering a single bill to address the needs of the nation’s veterans.

 Although not part of the committee’s panel of witnesses that day, the Association of the United States Navy has also submitted a letter of support for S. 1279, stating, “the bill does not seek to cut funding to existing VA treatment programs—rather expedite treatment in the private sector when it is in the veteran’s best interest.” 

 The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is expected to vote on advancing Veterans Choice-related measures to the full Senate in the coming weeks.

 A full copy of Senator Crapo’s testimony can be found here.

 Copies of each VSO’s testimony can be found here.

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