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Smith Report 8.14.2014

Expanding Veterans’ Access to Healthcare
In June the Department of Veterans Affairs released an audit that detailed an alarming number of American veterans who were not receiving the care they have so fully earned. According to the audit, 57,000 veterans had been waiting more than 90 days for their first VA appointment. Worse yet, the audit found that 64,000 veterans had fallen through the cracks completely and never received an appointment with a VA doctor after requesting one. This is a national disgrace and our veterans deserve better. The House of Representatives recently passed legislation to ensure our service members receive timely access to care.
The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, which has passed the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support, will make long-overdue reforms to the VA. The bill provides funding to hire new doctors and nurses so veterans are not forced to wait months to get care. Additionally, the legislation will give veterans the option to see a private healthcare provider if they live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic. This will be a tremendous opportunity for veterans living in our rural congressional district to visit a doctor close to home instead of being forced to drive many miles to a VA clinic.
The men and women who have served in our military deserve more from the VA. Veterans who have defended our freedoms and values at home and abroad should not be forced to wait for extended periods to see a doctor. If any veteran in the Eighth District is having a problem with the VA, I encourage them to contact one of my district offices so we can do our best to help. My staff and I work tirelessly to ensure our veterans get the proper care they have earned and deserve.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is broken. The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, is a tremendous bipartisan effort to honor our veterans’ service. No one who served our nation in uniform should have to worry about having access to healthcare. I will continue working in the House of Representatives to keep the promises made to our veterans and honor their service to our nation. We must always honor the sacrifices of our military members.

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