Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Praises Action on Veterans Health Reform Bill, Access to Non-VA Healthcare Providers
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today praised House and Senate negotiators on reaching a compromise to the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare reform bill. For months, Congresswoman Gabbard has been an outspoken advocate – and has introduced bipartisan legislation – to provide veterans with immediate access to non-VA doctors. The compromise VA healthcare bill announced today incorporates the foundation of her proposal and will require the VA to issue eligible veterans a “Veterans Choice Card” to enable them to access healthcare from non-VA doctors in their community.
“Veterans deserve a VA that puts their care first. This compromise bill takes a strong, bipartisan step toward a much-needed overhaul,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed combat veteran. “I have long called for urgent action, and introduced legislation, to make it so our veterans don't have to wait any longer to see a doctor, and go to a non-VA doctor in their community to get the care they need. The ‘Veterans Choice Card’ in this legislation seeks to do that by ensuring that veterans who have been waiting months or years to get an appointment will be able to access care immediately from a healthcare provider in their own community. Once the bill passes, we need to make sure that the VA issues these cards immediately, so our veterans can get the care they need.”
Also included in the compromise bill are reforms that allow for the firing or demotion of poorly performing or corrupt senior managers at the VA, and also provides $5 billion to hire more medical staff and improve facilities.
“In order to best serve our veterans, we must remove the bad actors at the VA, bring in fresh, experienced leadership, and hire more healthcare providers to ensure timely care for our veterans. They have been waiting for far too long just for basic health needs. We owe it to our brave men and women to hold up our end of the bargain,” said Congresswoman Gabbard.
Last week, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced ACT Now for Veterans (H.R. 5131), bipartisan legislation to immediately allow eligible veterans to access non-VA healthcare with the assurance the VA will cover the bill. Her bill would not require veterans to receive VA preauthorization before seeking outside care. On Friday, she also joined with 116 colleagues to call on congressional leadership to keep Congress in session until VA healthcare reform is passed.
The compromise VA healthcare reform bill must now be voted on in the House and Senate before it can be signed into law by President Obama.