Department of Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Lease Authorization Act of 2013by Former Representative Phil Gingrey
Posted on 2013-12-10
GINGREY of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R.
3521, the Department of Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Lease
Authorization Act, introduced by my good friend and Chairman of the
Veterans Affairs Committee, Mr. Miller. This legislation authorizes the
Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out major medical facility
leases at twenty seven facilities--including a facility in Cobb County,
Georgia--that were requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs in
their 2013 and 2014 budget submissions.
A change in Congressional Budget Office (CBO) accounting methods made the reauthorization of these leases very difficult, but this important legislation will allow authorization while increasing transparency.
This legislation, however, is about so much more than leases and definitional changes. This legislation is about ensuring the care of our veterans, and paying them the debt of gratitude we owe them.
The VA facility in Cobb County served 6,634 unique patients outpatients in Fiscal Year 2013, providing services in outpatient treatment, mental health, and lab work. These services are critical, provide convenience, and reduce driving time for veterans, many of whom would otherwise be forced to travel 70 miles or more round-trip to visit the overcrowded Atlanta VA Medical Center. With passage of the legislation before us today, the VA could authorize a lease for an expanded facility in Cobb County, one that would serve an estimated 64,000 veterans and provide more access to a greater variety of care. While mental health services, lab work, and outpatient treatment would still be provided, the expanded facility is intended to have the capability to provide eye care, physical and occupational therapy, radiology, and more.
Mr. Speaker, this legislation is a way forward for that facility and several more like it across the country. It seeks to expand access to care for veterans, not bureaucratic federal policies.
Our men and women in uniform--who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms--deserve the best care that we can give them. They deserve quality care that is convenient and accessible. This legislation provides us with an opportunity today to show our veterans that we are committed to those goals. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 3521.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Miller) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 3521, as amended.
The question was taken.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.