Senate VA committee passes legislation to address gaps in veteran health care

Washington-DC

FILE – This June 21, 2013, file photo, shows the seal affixed to the front of the Department of Veterans Affairs building in Washington. In a federal lawsuit filed this week, U.S. Navy veteran from South Carolina says he ended up with “full-blown AIDS,” because government health care workers never informed him of his positive test result in 1995. He says the test was done as part of standard lab tests at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Columbia, South Carolina. A V.A. spokeswoman says the agency typically does not comment on pending litigation. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

WASHINGTON — The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted to pass U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s (R-Kan.) Guaranteeing Healthcare Access to Personnel Who Served (GHAPS) Act.

The act aims to fix “gaps in veteran health care to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is serving vets in hard-to-reach places”, according to the press release.

This legislation would close VA health care gaps by:

  • Incorporating access standards for community care delivery to make certain veterans receive timely care in the community across the Community Care Network.
  • Directing VA to create a telehealth strategic plan to ensure the department is deploying virtual care thoughtfully and utilizing innovative solutions to deliver telehealth to rural veterans.
  • Ensuring all veterans with treatment-resistant depression have access to the necessary evidence-based care to put them on the path to recovery.
  • Cutting red tape for VA research by removing the Paperwork Reduction Act requirements, ensuring veterans benefit from more timely research-informed care.
  • Directing Government Accountability Office to produce a report on the Foreign Medical Program to evaluate whether the program is adequately meeting the needs of overseas veterans.

This legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

“While I believe the MISSION Act access standards used to determine eligibility are working, I agreed to remove the provision in the bill to codify these standards as the department works to carry out its assessment of the eligibility access standards, as mandated by MISSION,” … “While I still believe that codification of MISSION’s eligibility standards that veterans have come to rely on is the right course of action, I am pleased that the bill still includes language that would ensure veterans can receive timely community care. I will continue working to pass the GHAPS Act in the Senate to make certain our veterans continue to have access to the programs that are working for them no matter where they live.”

Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

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