NH Reps. Work on Bi-Partisan Veterans Proposal; U.S. Reps. Ann McLane Kuster, D-NH, and Frank Guinta, R-NH, introduce legislation to stop cuts to Veterans Choice Card Program.
On Feb. 13, 2015, U.S. Resp. Ann McLane Kuster, D-NH, and Frank Guinta, R-NH, joined together to introduce legislation that would protect the Veterans Choice Card program in New Hampshire.
This program was passed into law as part of last year’s bipartisan Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, legislation enacted to overhaul the faulty management system at the VA and help ensure every veteran can access timely, high quality medical care.
The Veterans Choice Card program allows veterans to receive medical care at private facilities if long wait times or location make it difficult for veterans to access care at the VA. This card is particularly crucial for states like New Hampshire, which do not have full-service VA hospital. With this card, many New Hampshire veterans will no longer be required to travel extremely long distances, sometimes up to 100 miles, to access the care they need. Under current law, the Veterans Choice Card program is authorized for three years or until its $10 billion dollar initial funding allocation is exhausted; however, the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposes reallocation of funds from the program which could greatly hinder the ability of New Hampshire veterans to take advantage of the card and access medical services at private facilities. The legislation introduced today by Reps. Kuster and Guinta would protect the Veterans Choice Card program by making the program permanent for veterans in states like New Hampshire without a full-service VA hospital.
“As a member of the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, I fought for the Veterans Choice card to be included in last year’s VA reform legislation, and I know what a difference this program will make to the lives of veterans all across the Granite State,” said Kuster, who helped lead the investigation into mismanagement at the VA and who now currently serves as Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “In states like New Hampshire without full-service VA medical centers, many of our veterans have been forced to travel long distances to receive care. This card will change that, and I’m very disappointed the President has proposed changes to the program before the implementation process has even gotten underway. We must protect our veterans’ right to receive care they need and deserve, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation that will protect the Veterans Choice Card program in New Hampshire from harmful cuts.”
“Our state has one of the highest veteran populations per capita in the nation; and, it gives me great honor to stand side-by-side with Rep. Kuster in introducing a common-sense bipartisan and bicameral piece of legislation to finally make permanent such a vital program to ensure our state’s heroes get the medical care and resources they deserve,” said Guinta.
The legislation Kuster and Guinta introduced today will make the Veterans Choice Card program permanent in states without full-service VA centers, protecting our veterans’ ability to access quality care in a timely manner. The bill is a bicameral, bipartisan effort to ensure that this program is fully implemented as intended by Congress. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.