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Serving Those Who Served: The Veterans Community Care and Access Act

This morning, we wrote a letter to Senator John McCain and Senator Jerry Moran to thank them both for introducing the Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017. This bill would create access to community health care for veterans who are currently unable to receive the health care services they need from a Veterans Affairs (VA) facility. This legislation offers veterans the opportunity to receive care in their community, rather than traveling miles and fighting through endless barriers to access quality care.
A disproportionate number of service men and women come from rural communities. Similarly, many of these veterans choose to return to rural communities at the conclusion of their service. Today, there are nearly 22 million veterans living in the United States, and almost 25% of these veterans live in rural communities. Compared to urban Veterans, rural Veterans are more likely to say the VA is their primary source of care and that VA care is their most cost-effective choice. Time, distance, and economic challenges prevent many rural veterans from receiving health care benefits through a VA facility. Preventative care and follow-up procedures are often impossible. The Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017 will help to change that.

The Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017 acknowledges the crucial role that Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) can play in providing local care for rural veterans by requiring that the VA pay CAHs providing care through the community care program at the CAH Medicare-established rate instead of the service-based Medicare rate used at larger facilities. This will help CAHs keep their doors open to provide care while giving veterans even more choices for localized community care. Additionally, this legislation would improve access and expand the VA’s telemedicine program, and works to ensure safe opioid prescribing practices. These additional initiatives are so important in providing affordable, accessible, quality care for our nation’s veterans.  
NRHA applauds the leadership of Senator Moran and Senator McCain in working to remove barriers that prevent veterans from accessing health care services, and allow rural veterans to have quality, timely care in their rural communities. The Veterans Community Care and Access Act will go far in helping rural veterans access the health care they need and deserve, and NRHA is proud and excited to support this legislation.
For more information, provided by Senator Jerry Moran’s office, click here.

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