In response to the compromise agreement—H.R. 3230, the “Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014”—reached between Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller July 28, 2014, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) National President Al Kovach released the following statement:
“Paralyzed Veterans is encouraged by the compromise agreement. The legislation will address the broad range of problems that veterans face trying to access care in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. While our concerns about the 'veterans choice' provisions of the proposed agreement remain, we appreciate the fact that the legislation also takes initial steps to strengthen the internal capacity of the VA by hiring more doctors, nurses, and other health care providers.
We continue to emphasize that for members of Paralyzed Veterans—veterans with spinal cord injury or dysfunction—the VA is the only truly viable option for health care. Comparable services do not exist in the private sector. This fact reinforces the need to expand capacity and bring more providers into the VA health care system. We recognize the benefits that veterans without service-connected disabilities or with service-connected disabilities that are not catastrophic will received by having greater access to care in the best location (whether within the VA or in the private sector). We also understand that it is a delicate balancing act to provide timely, quality care to veterans who rely solely on the VA for services, and those veterans who have options. We believe this legislation does a good job of striking that balance.
Unfortunately, we believe the agreement could do more to address the physical infrastructure needs of the VA. Recent appropriations have provided woefully inadequate resources to address this problem, and the compromise agreement generally does not address this issue as well. While we are pleased to see that positive steps are being taken to finally get new major medical facility leases around the country open and providing care, greater emphasis needs to be placed on building out more physical space to accommodate the real demand, which includes those veterans who had accessed VA health care as well as the thousands who desired to but were either waitlisted or had given up altogether.
Paralyzed Veterans calls on Congress to immediately approve the conference agreement for H.R. 3230 so that the VA can immediately begin implementing these critically important provisions. Additionally, we call on Congress to complete its work on the FY 2015 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. The VA should not be handcuffed by the partisan bickering and political gridlock that once again has it facing a late appropriation.”
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's efforts on Capitol Hill on behalf of veterans