Tester introduces bill to reduce travel burden for rural veterans

Senator’s bill includes multiple provisions making travel to VA facilities easier

(U.S. Senate) – Knowing the long distances that Montana veterans have to travel to receive care, Senator Jon Tester introduced a bill to make it easier for rural veterans to access the health care they earned.

Tester’s bill includes provisions to:
• Reauthorize Veterans Transportation Services (VTS), allowing the VA to hire drivers to transport veterans to VA health care facilities
• Ensure combat veterans can be reimbursed for traveling to VA facilities to seek mental health treatment
• Extend grants to veterans service organizations and state agencies that provide rural veterans travel assistance to VA care facilities.

“All veterans, regardless of where they call home, have earned high quality health care, and we have a responsibility to make access to that care as simple as possible,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “My bill makes it easier for rural veterans to access the same high quality care as veterans in other parts of the country.”

The VA estimates that Tester’s VTS provision will save taxpayers as much as $200 million over five years, because the service is less expensive than contracting with ambulance services.

Last week, Tester’s Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act, which provides veterans who work for the federal government with additional medical leave time, unanimously passed out of the Homeland Security Committee last week.

Tester’s bill, which is sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), is available online HERE.