Arlington, VA – Last week, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced the Veterans Empowerment Act, a bill that will fundamentally reform the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and offer all veterans who use the VA the option to access care in the private sector. Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is thanking Rep. Lamborn along with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) for co-sponsoring the legislation.
The bill expands veterans’ health care choices by creating a veterans’ health insurance program and allowing veterans to use their benefits inside or outside of the VA system. The bill would also establish better oversight of the VA health care system while increasing transparency regarding the VA’s performance.
CVA Executive Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Representatives Lamborn, Franks, and Meadows are stepping up to deliver real health care choice to our veterans. It is encouraging to see lawmakers stand behind a bill that will fundamentally transform the way the VA allows veterans to access medical care. The Veterans Empowerment Act will put the veteran in control of their health care decisions – not a VA bureaucrat. We encourage members of Congress to follow the bold leadership of these members and stand behind this crucial bill.”
In 2014, Congress passed the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act in response to the VA wait list scandal. This bill created the Veterans Choice Program, which only offered limited choice to veterans who satisfied certain requirements. Under the Choice Program, veterans must meet the “40-mile, 30-day” rule, which only allows veterans to seek care outside the VA if they can’t be seen within a month of when they request an appointment or if they can’t be seen within a 40-mile radius. Even then, many veterans are forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops to access the program, which was poorly-implemented and only intended to serve as a temporary measure.
The Choice Program recently faced a budget shortfall and is expected to run out of money again at the beginning of next year unless it is replaced with a more effective and sustainable method of offering veterans at the VA health care choice.