Congressman Tim Ryan Votes to Support the Bipartisan Veterans Access, Choice & Accountability Act
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Ryan today voted in favor of HR 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, a bipartisan agreement that will improve accountability and access to care for veterans within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This bill provides $10 billion to fund a pilot program to immediately address the VA wait-time crisis by allowing veterans who have waited 30 days or more for an appointment with the VA or who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility to seek care outside the VA health care system, including from a private physician or a community health center. This bill includes $1.5 billion to lease 27 new VA clinics in 18 states and Puerto Rico to bring care closer to where veterans live and increase access to specialty care services. Lastly, the bill provides $5 billion for VA to begin to address systemic problems within the VA health care system by hiring more primary and specialty care physicians and other medical staff, and includes incentives to attract more doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to the VA.
“I am proud to stand with groups like the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans in support of this legislation. Our veterans deserve the best medical care this nation can provide and this bill, while not perfect, is a step in the right direction,” said Congressman Tim Ryan. “Our veterans should be receiving cutting edge mental and physical health treatments and they should never be forced to endure these long wait periods and downright corruption. I look forward to the day our veterans get the care they have earned and deserve.”
Congressman Ryan, who introduced the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013, also supports that this legislation expands VA authority to provide counseling, care and other services to veterans and certain other non-veteran service members who have experienced military sexual trauma during active or inactive duty training, including members of the National Guard and Reserves.
Congressman Ryan has also introduced bills in Congress to improve the mental health treatment of veterans, including the Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act, which will help the military identify behavioral health issues and improve suicide prevention by instituting a mental health assessment for all incoming military recruits. The Veterans and Armed Forces Health Promotion Act, also introduced by Congressman Ryan, expands the use of complementary and alternative medicine to help treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).