Tester: Stop Putting Band-Aids on the VA, Fix it Now
Ranking Member: Pass the Caring for Our Veterans Act
(U.S. Senate) – Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Jon Tester today took to the Senate floor to demand that his colleagues stop passing short-term bills that temporarily plug holes in the Veterans Choice Program. Instead, Tester called for the passage of his bipartisan Caring for Our Veterans Act.
Tester partnered with Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) to draft the legislation that replaces the Veterans Choice Program with one, easy-to-navigate, community health care system that puts the decision of where to seek care in the hands of the veteran and their doctor. The legislation would also help address mental health workforce shortages in places like Montana and extend caregiver services to veterans of all eras.
“We don’t need another band-aid fix,” said Tester on the Senate floor. “The Caring for Our Veterans Act is a long term solution that provides the VA with the ability to hire staff for top notch care. It provides an integrated network of community providers to fill in the gaps for that care, and it is a balance between those two so the veterans win.”
Tester’s call to action comes as the VA asks Congress for another round of emergency funding for the Choice Program. Tester is demanding that Congress stop dumping billions of dollars into the Program, which has been a bureaucratic mess for veterans and providers.
“We’re going to pass a temporary stop-gap measure for our budget, and VA Choice funding will be a part of it probably,” said Tester. “I will tell you that this is the last band-aid that I am willing to put on the Choice Program. We need a long term solution, and if we don’t get that long term solution we’re not doing right by our veterans in this country.”
Tester’s entire floor speech is available HERE.