Tester invited to White House to see veterans’ health care bill become law

Tester worked with Montana veterans to pass health care funding bill

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today joined a bipartisan group of senators at the White House to see President Obama sign into law veterans’ health care legislation they helped push through Congress.

Tester—a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee—was one of the first supporters of the bipartisan Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act when it was introduced in February.

The new law will strengthen health care for veterans by allowing Congress to fund veterans’ medical care one year ahead of regular federal funding, to make funding for veterans’ health care more reliable.

Tester worked on the issue with leaders of Montana’s veterans community after they approached him and asked for his help in taking some of the uncertainty out of veterans’ health care funding.

“The men and women who put their lives on the line for this country shouldn’t have to come to Congress every year with hat-in-hand,” said Tester.  “They put on the uniform and served heroically and they have earned every one of their benefits.  This new law is a big step forward, and I’ll keeping working to make sure Montana’s veterans have access to quality care.”

Senator Max Baucus is a cosponsor of the legislation.  Leaders from the nation’s major veterans organizations and Senators John Thune, R-S.D. and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, were also on hand for today’s bill signing.

Tester is the author of the Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, which would improve care for the more than 100,000 veterans living in Montana.  Tester’s bill would improve mental health services, provide grants for innovative programs that improve health care for rural veterans, and lock in the VA’s current 41.5-cents per mile travel reimbursement for disabled veterans.  The bill has cleared the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.