Committee approves Tester provisions to improve veterans’ access to care

Several provisions of DOCS for Vets Act receive vote of support

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester today saw seven of his provisions to improve care for veterans pass out of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The provisions that passed the committee today:
• Ensure that the VA is more capable of addressing vacancies in its health care leadership, such as the Director position at Fort Harrison that was recently vacant for more than 240 days
• Extend the VA’s authority to expand and fill medical residencies and create a pipeline of medical professionals into the VA
• Update the VA’s pay system to help recruit and retain physician assistants and better compete with the private sector
• Expedite the process through which the VA provides survivor and burial benefits to recently widowed spouses of disabled veterans
• Reauthorize the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program so the VA can partner with local organizations to provide critical job training and support to veterans, and expand program access to more Native American veterans
• Ensure the VA is providing safer and more effective pain management services to Montana veterans.
• Expand eligibility for caregiver support services for more veterans

Three of those provisions came from Tester’s DOCS for Veterans Act to address chronic workforce issues that affect veterans’ access to care.

“We are demanding more and more from the VA, but Congress has to make sure we are providing the VA with the tools and resources necessary to meet the increased needs of veterans,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “By giving the VA the tools it needs to recruit physicians and fill vacancies, we are improving access to care for veterans.”

The measure now heads to the Senate floor.