Moran bill improves veterans’ healthcare access

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) led several Republican colleagues in introducing legislation that seeks to improve access to healthcare for United States military veterans living in rural America. 

“Whether a veteran lives in Manhattan, Kansas, or Manhattan, New York,” Sen. Moran said, “the VA should work to find solutions to meet their unique healthcare needs.”

Sen. Moran sponsored the Guaranteeing Healthcare Access to Personnel Who Served (GHAPS) Act, S. 1863, with seven original cosponsors, including U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

If enacted, S. 1863 would address gaps in veteran healthcare by ensuring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is serving veterans in rural communities throughout the nation, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers, who serve on the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“While we have made great strides in providing veterans with better healthcare, some veterans in rural communities still face challenges in accessing care,” Sen. Tillis said. “This legislation will help fill in the gaps and ensure that all veterans have access to timely and quality care, regardless of where they live.”

Additionally, the measure would remove bureaucratic barriers to care and also mandate a VA telehealth strategy to incorporate and apply lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the bill summary.

“Those who served our country in the armed services earned benefits,” said Sen. Cassidy. “My goal is that they receive those benefits that they earned.”

Among several other provisions, the measure would create access standards for community care delivery and ensure all veterans with treatment-resistant depression have access to the necessary evidence-based care to help them in their recovery, the summary says.

“Following the implementation of the MISSION Act and the Hannon Act, we now know the programs that have been successful in the effort to care for hard-to-reach veterans,” said Sen. Moran, who noted that S. 1863 also would codify such programs.