Bilirakis Co-Sponsors Bill to Expand Access to Care for Veterans
The legislation would create a pilot program to integrate care provided with by the Veterans Administration with federally qualified health centers in five communities across the country.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, is co-sponsoring a bill designed to expand veterans’ access to healthcare.
The bill would provide care for veterans outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs, particularly in rural areas by creating a pilot program to integrate VA care with federally qualified health centers in five communities across the country. FQHCs are nonprofit organizations located in under-served parts of the country. They are regulated by the Health Resources & Services Administration.
With the challenges facing VA care in some parts of the country, including access, accountability, and lack of transparency, partnerships with successful FQHCs provide an opportunity to improve veterans’ health care, Bilirakis said. The pilot programs established under this legislation would serve as a model for how to improve access to care for veterans across the country.
“Community health centers in my district have a proven track record of delivering outstanding, comprehensive health care in a cost effective manner,” Bilirakis said. “They offer a wide array of services including primary care, dental services, mental health and substance abuse treatment. They are an example of what is working in our health care system, and I believe they should be expanded. If veterans are unable to receive the quality of care they deserve within the VA system, I want them to have the choice to take advantage of the value that community health centers offer without encountering bureaucratic barriers. This bill will help ensure that goal, and I look forward to its passage.”
Bilirakis’ co-sponsors are Reps. Annie Kuster, D-NH; Scott Peters, D-CA; and Mike Coffman, R-CO). All are members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Bilirakis said, long-term champions for veterans and strong supporters of community health centers.
“Veterans in New Hampshire and across the country have faced unacceptable barriers in access to care, especially in rural communities,” Kuster said. “Expanding access to care outside of the VA through the Choice Program was a step in the right direction but unfortunately Choice has not delivered effectively for all veterans. Our legislation would explore innovative new ways to connect veterans with care providers by establishing partnerships between VA and FQHC that are already providing quality care in local communities. I’m hopeful that this can serve as a model across the country so that we can ensure all veterans are able to access the services and care they deserve.”
Peters said, “Veterans have earned the best healthcare our nation has to offer, but they often face barriers to quality and timely care. Partnering with federally qualified health centers, which are vetted to meet certain patient-care and quality standards, provides veterans with expanded access to high-quality, affordable health care. San Diegans already take advantage of these resources. There is no reason these resources should not be extended to our nation’s heroes.”
Coffman, a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, said, “Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers provide quality healthcare in underserved areas, and can be found throughout Colorado and the rest of the country. Veterans deserve access to quality care in a timely and efficient manner. This is what they have earned through service and sacrifice in defense of our freedoms. With wait times in the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System at an unacceptable high, FQHC’s can offer more accessible and hassle-free healthcare services in the community for our veterans. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this critical piece of legislation.”
Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
For information about Bilirakis, go to bilirakis.house.gov.
Gus Bilirakis | Veterans | Healthcare | Veterans Healthcare | Politics | Tampabay News
#GusBilirakis #Veterans #Healthcare #VeteransHealthcare #Politics #TampabayNews