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Tim H.
Republican KS 1

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  • Conference Report on H.R. 3230, Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act

    by Representative Tim Huelskamp

    Posted on 2014-07-30

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    HUELSKAMP. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for his work on this bill.

    As a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, I want to take a moment to share a little about what this bill means for my Kansas veterans.

    Since coming to Congress, I have heard dozens of stories from Kansas veterans about their troubles with the VA. They have shared about how they are required to travel hundreds of miles for simple medical tests or to renew their prescriptions, all the while, driving past dozens of local hospitals and other health care providers with the ability and desire to meet their needs locally. Many Kansas veterans drive halfway across the State or to Colorado, Nebraska, or even Texas to get their simplest health care needs met.

    In fact, just yesterday, my office had to step in to help a 94-year- old World War II veteran. The nearest VA hospital was 240 miles away. He just had a recent serious surgery, and they said, you have to come into the hospital to renew your prescriptions.

    {time} 1545 Thankfully, I was able to contact the VA and ensure this veteran could get his care in his local community, but as I tell folks in Kansas, you shouldn't have to call your Congressman to get the care you deserve.

    With this bill, hundreds of rural Kansas veterans will be able to use their new veteran choice card or Project ARCH, call their local doctor, and get their health care needs met. Just like Medicare or TRICARE, veterans should have the choice to schedule their own appointments, pick their own doctors in their own communities.

    When our veterans come back from serving and defending our country and return to communities across the United States, most of them don't ask for much, but I want our veterans to know that I believe you deserve the best, not just the mediocre, scandal-plagued culture we have seen at the current VA.

    This bill is just plain common sense. It is a big first step towards giving veterans real choice and real accountability. As this law is implemented, I remain committed to continuing to ask the hard questions and working to return the VA to its true mission, to serve our veterans.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Maine has 5\1/2\ minutes remaining. The gentleman from Florida has 2 minutes remaining.

    Mr. MICHAUD. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Rahall).

    Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, I commend Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Michaud for bringing this Veterans' Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act to us today.

    In medically-underserved communities, where health care staffing shortages have caused delays in appointments, this conference agreement will help provide critical investments so that the VA can begin hiring the doctors it needs to serve our veterans.

    It will help to reduce the backlog in VA construction and maintenance projects. It will help to ensure that veterans unable to get a medical appointment at a VA facility will be able to get the care they need from a non-VA provider.

    This legislation can do a lot of good, but it is only a first step. The bill must be implemented, regulations issued, and scarce moneys allocated to ensure that veterans get the care that this legislation promises.

    We must not lose sight of the rural, underserved areas in our Nation like in southern West Virginia, where veterans are elderly and travel is costly and burdensome. We must not lose sight of the need for medical facilities and health providers in those areas.

    I urge the VA to remember rural veterans as it implements this bill, and I certainly aim to help to ensure that it does so. Again, I commend the chairman and ranking member for bringing this legislation to us today.

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