Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls on President Obama to Authorize Fee Basis Care for Vets

June 2, 2014
Press Release

Honolulu – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today announced that she has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to use his executive power to allow veterans to immediately access private medical care outside of the Veterans Affairs (VA) system without VA pre-approval and bureaucratic red tape.
 
“What the President and the VA have done so far to deal with this crisis is insufficient because it still leaves the health and well-being of our veterans in the hands of a broken system,” said Representative Tulsi Gabbard.
 
“Many of our veterans urgently need medical care and they should not have to go another day without it.” A veteran who has served two tours of duty in the Middle East, Gabbard said, “I have seen the wounds, both visible and invisible, of veterans I served with.  To make any veteran wait for medical care is not only an emergency, it is a travesty.
 
“President Obama and Congress have the power to ensure that our veterans do not wait another week for care. They can’t afford to wait for a new head of the VA or for the systemic problems of the VA to be fixed. Nor should they. We must take action immediately, and to this effect I have sent the enclosed letter to President Obama. I am calling on him to use his executive powers to immediately allow veterans to use their VA identification cards to obtain medical care through the private health system.
 
“Furthermore, I plan to introduce legislation that will give our veterans the right to obtain private medical care using their VA cards over the next 12 months, at which point we can re-evaluate whether the VA problems have sufficiently been fixed.
 
“The time for action is now. People can talk as much as they want about how much they care for our veterans, but without action, it’s simply empty rhetoric.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard's letter to President Obama is below.
 


Letter to President Obama


Dear Mr. President,
 
Aloha and best wishes to you and your family.
 
Many of our veterans urgently need medical care and they should not have to go another day without it. I have seen the wounds, both visible and invisible, of veterans I served with. To make any veteran wait for medical care is not only an emergency, it is a travesty.
 
Our veterans cannot afford to wait for a new head of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or for the systemic problems of the VA to be fixed. They need care now, and, as the President of the United States, it is within your power to make this happen. I’m calling on you to use your executive power to immediately allow our veterans to use their VA identification card to obtain medical care through the private health care system, with the VA paying the bill for any needed services. I urge you to take this action.
 
This is a crisis, and as such, private medical care must be available to veterans without VA pre-approval. Unfortunately, the so-called “emergency” measures which have recently been put in place still require veterans to undergo bureaucratic red tape to get the care they need—leaving their health and well-being in the hands of a broken system. Allowing veterans to use their VA identification card to obtain medical care through the private health system will solve the immediate problem.
 
No one knows exactly how long it will take for the systemic problems of the VA to be fixed. Until then, please implement this stopgap measure for the next 12 months or longer if necessary.
 
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