Rounds cosponsors bill to support military veterans transitioning from VA care programs

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to modify the transition period between care and services provided under both the Veterans Choice Program and the Veterans Community Care Program.

“The men and women who wore the uniform of the United States have earned the benefits they were promised,” said Sen. Rounds. “The VA must continue to provide care and services to eligible veterans throughout the transition period.”

Sen. Rounds on May 23 cosponsored the Veterans Affairs Saving Network Appointments From Upheaval (VA SNAFU) Act, S. 1656, with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to delay implementation of access standards for non-VA healthcare providers.

As of June 6, as authorized by the VA MISSION Act of 2018, U.S. military veterans must adhere to new access standards for non-VA healthcare providers, according to information provided by the senator’s office.

Sen. Rounds is concerned that the VA has not taken enough time to properly prepare its staff, systems and community networks for the implementation of the proposed access standards and that the VA may not be able to certify and tell veterans whether community providers will offer as-good or better care than VA facilities, his office said.

“Our legislation seeks to make sure the transition from the Veterans Choice Program to the Veterans Community Care Program, as outlined in the VA MISSION Act, does not adversely impact veterans,” Sen. Rounds explained.

Additionally, he said S. 1656 automatically would enroll veterans who have been exposed to toxic airborne chemicals or stationed near open burn pits into the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry unless they choose to opt out.

“This will make it easier for those veterans to receive adequate care and updates pertinent to them in a timely manner,” Sen. Rounds added. “Our nation’s veterans served our country and we owe it to them to make sure they are properly taken care of.”