WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) and John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) wrote Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake earlier this week, after the Senators received a document outlining plans for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to shift away from renovating or constructing health care facilities in favor of leasing facilities or purchasing care from outside providers. Akaka and Rockefeller, the Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman and former-Chairman, respectively, inquired about the implications that such a plan would have on the VA health care system.
"Any major shift in VA health care policy, especially one being proposed so close to the end of the current administration, requires open review by Congress and the public. I look forward to a full and thorough explanation before any such plan is implemented," said Akaka.
"Access to quality VA facilities throughout our rural state is enormously important to veterans and their families. If it is true that the VA is considering closing particular facilities across the country as a cost-saving measure, I have very serious concerns and I would like a response to our letter as soon as possible. I will always fight for quality healthcare for West Virginia - answers are owed to the veterans who have served this country with honor," said Rockefeller.
Akaka and Rockefeller's full letter is copied below:
October 27, 2008
The Honorable James B. Peake, M.D.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary Peake,
We recently obtained a document which appears to outline a new program that would utilize an expanded leasing program in lieu of major construction for the delivery of VA health care. As we understand the proposed program, VA would place greater emphasis on leasing space or providing fee-basis care, instead of renovating or constructing new facilities.
As the Chairman and former Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, we are interested in learning more about this proposal, including its current status. To that end, we ask that you address the following questions:
Given the time sensitivity of this proposal, we ask for your response within two weeks. We look forward to working with you to further the interests of our veterans.
Daniel K. Akaka John D. Rockefeller IV