WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) – along with committee members 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.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) today introduced the Guaranteeing Healthcare Access to Personnel Who Served (GHAPS) Act that would address gaps in veteran health care to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is serving veterans in hard-to-reach places.
This legislation works to codify programs that have been successful for veterans, remove bureaucratic barriers to care and mandate a VA telehealth strategy to incorporate and apply lessons learned during the pandemic to close the gaps in VA health care that often leave behind rural and highly rural veterans, community care veterans and overseas veterans.
“Whether a veteran lives in Manhattan, Kansas, or Manhattan, New York, the VA should work to find solutions to meet their unique health care needs,” said Sen. Moran. “Following the implementation of the MISSION Act and the Hannon Act, we now know the programs that have been successful in the effort to care for hard-to-reach veterans. The GHAPS Act makes certain they will continue to have access to these programs no matter where they live for years to come.”
“Those who served our country in the armed services earned benefits. My goal is that they receive those benefits that they earned,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“While we have made great strides in providing veterans with better health care, some veterans in rural communities still face challenges in accessing care,” said Sen. Tillis. “This legislation will help fill in the gaps and ensure that all veterans have access to timely quality care, regardless of where they live. I am proud to work on this legislation with my colleagues and will always work hard for our servicemembers and veterans.”
“Living in a small, highly rural community far from a major metropolitan center does not justify a veteran losing or receiving limited access to the health care they have earned and sacrificed for,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Community-centered approaches to health care delivery, coupled with advancements in technology and telehealth, can enable the VA to better deliver care to veterans wherever they live, especially those who find themselves in the ‘gaps’ without service—like in Alaska’s many remote towns and villages. I’m glad to introduce legislation with Chairman Moran and my colleagues to seize this opportunity and fulfill our responsibility to the men and women who have bravely served our country.”
“Codifying MISSION access standards is an important step to ensuring the quality access to care that our veterans deserve,” said Sen. Blackburn. “This legislation led by Senator Moran will help close current gaps that prevent veterans from receiving care.”
“No matter where they live or what they do for work, our veterans are heroes who deserve the best care this nation can provide,” said Sen. Cramer. “The Guaranteeing Healthcare Access to Personnel Who Served Act would help bridge the gaps in care availability for veterans by evaluating telehealth services, removing bureaucratic barriers, and prioritizing efforts to reach veterans living in rural America.
“Alabama is home to over 400,000 veterans, many of whom live in rural communities,” said Sen. Tuberville. “Veterans should not face barriers to care just because of where they live. We must use all available resources and lessons learned during the pandemic to improve the quality of care for veterans in rural America.”
The American Legion and America’s Warrior Partnership have endorsed this legislation.
This legislation would close VA health care gaps by:
- Codifying MISSION access standards to protect veteran eligibility for MISSION’s Veterans Community Care Program.
- Creating access standards for community care delivery to make certain veterans receive timely care in the community.
- 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 the 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.
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