Last year, we discovered that veterans in Phoenix, Arizona, had waited for more than 100 days to receive the medical attention they desperately needed.
This lack of respect and attention for our military heroes is appalling.
As I have been traveling throughout the Second District and touring sites, such as Maine Veteran’s Homes in Bangor, Togus and the Lewiston VA Medical Clinic, I am constantly hearing from our military heroes of the need to improve access to quality healthcare.
As I have repeatedly said, I will work to help them receive the health care they were promised, earned and deserve. To that extent, I have written letters to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and supported bills that will help improve veterans’ access to healthcare.
In February, I joined my House colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, Robert McDonald, asking why funding for the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act was cut. I also pressed him on why the VA was using “as the crow flies” methods for those who live 40 miles away from a VA clinic. This isn’t fair and it isn’t right.
In March, after receiving pressure from Congress and the American people, the VA announced they will be using driving distance from a VA medical facility as the qualifier to use the Veterans Choice program – not “as the crow flies.” I am pleased to see that the Department of Veterans Affairs has changed their decision, but there is much more work to be done.
To help veterans receive access to healthcare, I supported the Veterans Access to Community Care Act. This bill will allow veterans to seek health care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs network if they live more than 40 miles away from a VA medical facility.
I also supported the Veterans TRICARE Choice Act, which will allow TRICARE-eligible veterans to voluntarily freeze their benefits in order to enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA) program provided by their employer. When our Maine heroes enter the private workforce, they should be given the same health care opportunities as their non-veteran coworkers. It’s imperative for Congress to ensure that our military veterans have the best possible health care options that fit them and their family’s needs.
I believe these bills will help our local heroes get the healthcare they were promised, earned and deserved.
I will continue to support bills that will help improve access to healthcare for our military veterans and work to make sure they are getting the attention and respect they deserve.
Thank you to all of our veterans, and their families, for their sacrifices and service to our great country.
I am honored and humbled to represent you in Congress.