(Washington, D.C.) Yesterday the House passed H.R. 3236, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015.  Included in this legislation was a provision making available $3.348 billion dollars from the Veterans Choice Fund to pay for other non-VA care expenditures incurred by the VA for veteran patients from May 1 to October 1, 2015 and provide further treatments for Hepatitis C.  This emergency authorization was required to cover a budgetary shortfall that the VA only recently admitted to, and the bill includes provisions that will bring further transparency to the VA’s budget going forward.

Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, released the following statement:

“This legislation will prevent another VA catastrophe by making sure that the Choice Act funds we appropriated last year can be used for related veterans’ community care expenditures.  This bill will ensure that no veterans hospitals or care for any veteran will be jeopardized due to the VA’s mismanagement of the influx of patients that followed last year’s passage of the Choice Act.  Once again, Congress is providing the VA with all the resources they require to provide timely, quality care to our veterans and their loved ones.

The bill also proposes something that is sorely needed – the consolidation of the myriad programs VA uses to provide care outside their facilities.  Veterans are confused, VA employees are confused, doctors are confused, and reimbursement rates aren’t standardized.  We need to make sure that the non-VA care program is thriving so that patients can get the high-quality care they deserve near their homes. 

As the chairman of the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations subcommittee, I will continue to devote time and attention to pinpointing VA’s future funding needs and maintaining vigilant oversight of their appropriated taxpayer dollars. The VA must develop systems that give us accurate and on-time information and engage with Congress in a transparent and timely manner.  We cannot and should not continue to lurch from one funding crisis to another.   What we have seen is terrible management and a terrible disservice to our veterans by the VA.  We were able to prevent veterans from being hurt with this week’s action, but a great deal more work must be done to prevent future debacles.”

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For more information about H.R. 3236 click here

CONTACT: Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490