Published: Sun, August 06, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Senate unanimously passes Tester's bill to tackle massive veterans' appeals backlog

Senate unanimously passes Tester's bill to tackle massive veterans' appeals backlog

"This is long-overdue. It includes two new outpatient clinics in Hampton Roads, which has one of the fastest-growing patient populations in the VA system, and in Fredericksburg, which will ease the burden at existing VA facilities and allow veterans to receive treatment closer to their homes".

The U.S. Senate last night unanimously passed an omnibus veterans package that included Senator Tim Kaine's bipartisan bill, the Veterans Education Experience Improvement Act of 2017, which will provide resources and training for the officials at educational institutions - including colleges across Virginia - who serve student veterans, helping them achieve positive education outcomes.

The legislation will also authorize 28 delayed VA medical facility leases. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 further invests in the proven educational success of our veterans and helps propel them toward becoming our nation's civic, business, and public leaders. As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the VA, I authored a provision in the Committee's report on the VA funding bill urging the Department to address the extensive delays in authorizing VA medical facility leases such as the CBOC in Portland. "Last month, I secured additional language in the Committee's report directing the VA to maintain the same access to care veterans enjoyed under the ARCH pilot through the use of provider agreements", said Senator Collins.

He says the bill expands education benefits for post-9/11 veterans and has passed out of the Veteran Affairs Committee with bipartisan support.

"It is critical that the Veterans Choice Program has the funding to continue offering timely appointments for veterans in their own communities", said Chairman Isakson.

When the new Congress convened in January, Warner and Senator Susan Collins of ME reintroduced that bill.

Warner has been spearheading an effort in Congress to approve the medical facility leases for more than a year. This bill also strengthens the VA's ability to recruit, train, and retain its valuable workforce, which will help the VA continue to improve veterans' care.

VA Secretary David Shulkin had warned that without congressional action the program would run out of money by mid-August, disrupting medical care for thousands of veterans.

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