Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee considers 3 measures

This week, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on pending business, including:

  • The Veterans Choice Improvement Act of 2016 (S. 2646), introduced on March 7 by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) with original co-sponsors John Hoeven (R-ND), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Boozman, (R-AR) and John Moran (R-KS).
  • The Improving Veterans Access to Care in the Community Act (S.2633), introduced on March 3 by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) with original co-sponsors Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-UT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Christopher Murphy (D-CT).
  • The Express Appeals Act of 2016 (S. 2473), introduced on Jan. 28 by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) with original co-sponsors Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA) and Dean Heller (R-NV).

Together, the bills could significantly improve veterans’ access to care by expanding provider agreements and simplifying access so that veterans could have more options to local care outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs system. The combines bills also could create a more efficient claims submission process (tested in a five-year pilot program), and could expand the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hold senior executives accountable.

The committee expects the bill to pass the Senate and get sent to the House, and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the committee’s chairman, is hopeful that the House will also approve the legislation in time for a signing ceremony on Memorial Day.

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