Tester delivers outline for improving rural veterans’ health care

Senator keynotes address to national rural health care organization

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Stronger partnerships and expanded telemedicine will improve access to health care for veterans in rural and frontier America, Senator Jon Tester today told a national organization of health care providers.

Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, outlined steps for improving rural veterans’ health care in a keynote speech to the National Rural Health Association, a nonprofit organization focused on improving health care in rural America.

Tester used the speech to call for new strategies to attract health care professionals to critical access hospitals and VA clinics, and to encourage stronger partnerships between the Veterans Administration and health care providers.

“We’ve made some good strides in the last few years.  But there is more to do,” Tester told the group today.  “And I know that you all will continue to play a critical role in that effort.”

Tester also called for enactment of his Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, which unanimously passed the Senate in November.

The bill creates stronger partnerships between health providers and the VA in frontier communities.  It also provides grants for innovative programs that improve care for rural veterans, and locks in the VA’s current travel reimbursement for disabled veterans.

“More and more, our troops are coming from small towns like Fresno, Montana, and Manhattan, Montana,” Tester added.  “And when they come home from serving our country, they have earned the right to the same quality of health care, and the same benefits as the veteran who comes home to Fresno, California, and Manhattan, New York.”