Senate passes key improvements for Montana veterans
Tester praises Senate for raising VA mileage reimbursement rate again
Senate for passing several key improvements for
increase to the VA’s mileage reimbursement rate for disabled veterans who travel
to get their healthcare.
The Senate today agreed to raise the reimbursement rate
to 41.5-cents per mile. Tester brought the issue to the forefront last year by
successfully raising the rate for the first time in 30 years, from 11-cents to
28.5-cents per mile. At the time, he pledged to boost the reimbursement rate
The rate increase was part of an overall bill that funds
the U.S. Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs. The
legislation provides $41 billion for veterans’ medical care and research, $1.8
billion above the president’s proposed budget.
“This bill is an enormous step forward for
Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Whether it’s a
higher mileage reimbursement or letting veterans get the treatment they need
closer to home, this bill is good news for the folks who served our
In addition to increasing the VA’s mileage reimbursement
rate, the measure passed today also sets aside:
- $375 million to
allow the VA to raise the income limit that defines Priority 8 veterans.
Currently, Priority 8 veterans (those who have no service-connected disability
and earn more than about $28,000 in
) cannot enroll in the VA health Montana
system. The additional funds will allow the VA to increase that income cap by
- $250 million for a
rural health initiative that will allow the VA to increase services specifically
for veterans in rural areas, such as telemedicine, mobile clinics, and new
- Full funding for the
VA’s minor construction projects, which will allow the VA to begin building a
24-bed inpatient psychiatric facility at
. Currently, Ft. Harrison Montanaveterans needing such care are sent to Sheridan, Wyo., or to
The Senate passed the measure with a vote of 78-12. The
U.S. House has already passed the legislation.
Tester urged President Bush to sign the bill into law
before Wednesday, when the new fiscal year begins.