Congresswoman Shea-Porter Reintroduces the Veterans Health Equity Act
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter reintroduced the Veterans Health Equity Act (H.R. 388). This legislation would increase access to health care services for veterans in New Hampshire. It requires the VA to ensure that each state has a full-service VA Medical Center or to contract in-state for private care for services that are not offered by the VA. Unlike the Veterans Choice Program, which is temporary and set to expire in August, the Veterans Health Equity Act of 2017 would permanently allow veterans to seek private care in-state when the VA does not offer the service in a veteran’s state.
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said, “As I promised, I am introducing the Veterans Health Equity Act of 2017. Veterans are still facing unnecessary and unacceptable delays in accessing medical care. I look forward to working again with veterans, veterans service organizations, and the VA in Manchester to improve access to care and ensure that all our veterans receive the health benefits they have earned. I believe that America needs to keep its promises to our veterans by either creating a full-service hospital or by ensuring full access to health care in a veteran’s state of residence.”
- Congresswoman Shea-Porter first introduced the Veterans Health Equity Act on July 29, 2008, to provide either a full-service veteran’s hospital or access to comparable services in-state for New Hampshire veterans.
- New Hampshire is currently the only state in the nation that does not have a full-service veterans hospital or equivalent access.
- The VA Choice Program, enacted in 2014, allows veterans to seek private care if they live 40 miles (20 miles in New Hampshire) or further from a VA Medical Center or cannot receive an appointment within 30 days.
- While the Choice Program expanded access to private care to reduce wait times, its implementation has been flawed, and far too many veterans are still waiting for care. Additionally, the Choice Program does not address access to services that are unavailable at VA Medical Centers. Finally, the program is a temporary program set to expire in August 2017.
- The Veterans Health Equity Act would permanently ensure that all veterans in New Hampshire have access to the medical care they’ve earned by requiring the VA to expand services or contract for care in the community when it’s not available.