Isakson co-sponsors legislation to give veterans more choice in health care

Sat, 03/10/2007 - 3:36pm
By: The Citizen

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)today announced that he is co-sponsoring legislation that would allow veterans with service-connected disabilities to go to any hospital or medical clinic of their choice. Isakson is a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“The most important responsibility we have as a Congress is to see to it that the treatment and services we give our veterans are the very best our country can offer,” Isakson said. “While I have great faith in quality of care available from the VA, I know some veterans are concerned, and I believe this legislation will ensure that those individuals have additional options.”

The Veterans Healthcare Empowerment Act, S.815, would provide health care benefits to veterans with a service-connected disability at non-Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities that receive payments under the Medicare program or the TRICARE program. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the legislation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs health care system has consistently been ranked among the best in the nation, and Isakson believes that most veterans will choose to remain with the VA.

Concerns regarding health care for veterans and injured U.S. soldiers have come to light in the wake of a series of articles in the Washington Post on the bureaucratic delays and substandard conditions for long-term patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Specifically, Building 18 at Walter Reed was said to contain mold, rot and mice. Walter Reed is a Department of Defense facility.

On Monday, Isakson visited Walter Reed to see firsthand the conditions of the facilities where injured U.S. soldiers recuperate after receiving medical treatments. Isakson toured Building 18 and saw the improvements that are being made while soldiers are being housed at other facilities. Isakson also toured other buildings at Walter Reed that house soldiers and their family members and he found them to be clean, well-run facilities.

“I firmly believe the VA must work closely with the Department of Defense to ensure that veterans and their families are provided with timely and high-quality services,” Isakson said.

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