Smith: VA Bill Balances Accessibility and Accountability
Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today voted in favor of Veterans Affairs legislation that would expand access to care for veterans, expedite the firing of negligent VA employees, provide for additional medical staff, and lease facilities for 27 new VA hospitals and clinics. Specifically, the legislation would consolidate several San Antonio-area clinics into a new, 191,000 square foot facility as part of a broader VA medical facilities lease plan.
Congressman Lamar Smith: “America’s veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms. They deserve the best health care, not delayed health care. This bill starts moving the VA in the right direction.
“This legislation will benefit thousands of veterans in San Antonio and across the 21st Congressional District of Texas who have been subjected to unacceptable delays in care. This bill balances increased access to care for veterans with increased accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
The measure, which was championed by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida, also received praise from groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Disabled Veterans of America (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Similar to legislation Rep. Smith supported earlier this summer, this bill would allow veterans who experience wait times longer than 30 days, and those living more than 40 miles from a VA facility, to seek private care at the expense of the VA. It would also give the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs more authority to fire employees guilty of wrongdoing.
The legislation would also require the VA to combine several San Antonio-area medical and benefits facilities into one new 191,000 square foot facility to ease access for veterans seeking any number of services. Specifically, the bill would consolidate the Frank Tejada Outpatient Clinic, two existing annexes, three existing specialty care clinics, one contract clinic and Veterans Benefits Administration offices into a single, one-stop-shop facility. The new facility would integrate medical and surgical care facilities with laboratory, pathology and radiology services in order to decrease visits for patients and deliver test results on the same day of appointment.