What They Are Saying: Veterans’ HEALTH Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) – members of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – recently introduced the Veterans’ Health Empowerment, Access, Leadership, and Transparency for our Heroes (HEALTH) Act to protect and expand access to care for veterans, safeguard veterans’ ability to choose their own providers and require VA to improve the quality of care veterans receive.

This legislation has received praise from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). Statements of support are included below. 

“The VFW supports the Veterans’ Health Empowerment, Access, Leadership, and Transparency for our Heroes (HEALTH) Act of 2023 which would ensure VA to provides more transparency to access standards, telehealth options, and community care in a timely fashion. Value-based care allows for prevention efforts in the reduction of health care illnesses and suicide, which is a top priority for the VFW. We thank Senators Moran and Sinema for introducing this bill and we look forward to getting this bill passed into law.” – Meggan Thomas, Veterans of Foreign Wars

“Building and maintaining a smooth and efficient health system that combines the best of the Department of the Veterans Affairs and community-based care can start with a simple vision. The Veterans’ HEALTH Act reflects Wounded Warrior Project’s enduring commitment to ensure that veterans have timely access to high quality health care. This legislation would improve transparency and increase access to critical care for veterans by finally establishing a consistent applied access standard for veterans seeking care at inpatient programs, most specifically VA’s mental health residential rehabilitation treatment programs or their community-based equivalents. We appreciate Senator Moran and Senator Sinema for their leadership on these issues, and are pleased to support the bipartisan Veterans’ HEALTH Act of 2023.” – Jose Ramos, Wounded Warrior Project

“Community care programs are paramount in addressing veterans' health, and it's essential that Congress bolster their development. The Veterans Health Empowerment, Access, Leadership, and Transparency for Our Heroes Act of 2023, championed by Senator Moran, underscores the importance of accessible, high-quality care, fostering well-being and recovery for our nation's valiant heroes through enhanced support networks and resources. The American Legion thanks Senator Moran for his continued leadership and is proud to support this legislation.” – National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola, The American Legion

“Community Care has proven to be efficient, effective, and popular among veterans, with very positive outcomes. Veterans continue to request referrals to see providers located nearby, in their communities, rather than wait for care at the VA. America’s Warrior Partnership applauds the bipartisan efforts of Senator Moran and Senator Sinema to codify access standards and make common sense reforms to the program that will make it easier for veterans to access and utilize community care. Terrible policies, such as restarting the “wait time” clock when the VA cancels or reschedules an appointment, or when the VA offers a telemedicine appointment instead of in-person, continues to show how the VA is refusing to take community care seriously – and demonstrates why the bipartisan Veterans’ HEALTH Act is needed immediately.” – Jim Lorraine, America’s Warrior Partnership

"The Independence Fund applauds Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) on the introduction of the Veterans’ HEALTH Act. Today, too many Veterans are slipping through the cracks and failing to receive the healthcare they deserve. The Veterans’ HEALTH Act will expand access to mental health residential treatment for veterans, which is critical. The Independence Fund has advocated for a clinically sound reduction in the amount of time Veterans are required to wait, which will open the door for expanded access to mental health care. The HEALTH Act will ensure Veterans receive high-quality care in a timely manner.  By supporting the HEALTH Act, we are demonstrating our commitment to providing our Veterans with the best possible healthcare services and ensuring that they receive the care they need, when they need it.  This bill builds on the spirit and tenets of the MISSION Act to provide the care that is in the best interest of the Veteran, regardless if that care is at a VAMC or a Community Care Network provider." – Tom Porter, The Independence Fund

"The VA has continued to ignore the intent of Congress by undermining the Veterans Community Care Program since its creation in 2019. By manipulating wait times, dissuading veterans from using their benefits outside the VA, and overruling doctors’ recommendations, VA administrators have looked out for their bureaucratic interests at the expense of millions of veterans’ wellbeing. Senator Moran’s Veterans' HEALTH Act of 2023 would protect and improve veterans’ health care choices. The bill would codify common-sense wait-time measurements and protect the eligibility standards for veterans’ access to Community Care, requiring veterans to be told about these choices. The bill would also create a self-scheduling portal and remove red tape blocking veterans from faster access to mental health and substance abuse treatment. Given the VA’s poor track record at carrying out reforms, the Veterans’ HEALTH Act also holds it accountable for progress.” – Russ Duerstine, Concerned Veterans for America

“The National Defense Committee salutes Senator Moran for protecting the hard-fought benefits of VA-funded community care by introducing the Veterans HEALTH Act. Since its enactment and regulatory execution, community care has been fraught with delays, obfuscation, and the strong perception by veterans that the VA was doing everything in its power to prevent veterans from accessing community care. The National Defense Committee is grateful the proposed legislation will mandate and preserve the current access standards as the bare minimum standard, covers all health care services (and not just outpatient services), and prevents the VA from “gaming” the community care access standards to prevent veteran access to the timely and quality care they earned and deserve. We especially thank Senator Moran for restoring the clinician-patient relationship by making a “best medical interest” determination for community care final and not subject to any review other than legality. It is unfortunate the Congress must force the VA to carry out the community care law of the MISSION Act enacted five years ago, but the National Defense Committee is grateful Senator Moran exercises such oversight to ensure the VA’s health care system is focused first on protecting disabled veterans’ health, and not protecting VA jobs.” – Bob Carey, National Defense Committee

A press release on the bill’s introduction can be found here. Text of the bill can be found here, and a section-by-section explanation of the bill can be found here.

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