Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL), the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee chairmen, held a joint news conference on Monday, July 28, on an agreement they reached on compromise legislation to reform the VA and address the short- and long-term needs of veterans seeking health care.
The legislation would provide VA with $10 billion to end long wait times in many facilities throughout the country by contracting out health care with private medical providers, community health centers, Department of Defense facilities and Indian Health Service clinics to allow veterans to receive private care if they live 40 miles away from a VA facility. This legislation will also provide $5 billion for the VA to add doctors and other clinicians as well as address some of the serious space problems at overcrowded VA facilities.
Th proposal also contains some other provisions that would:
- Improve the delivery of care to veterans who experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military.
- Expands the John David Fry Scholarship program to include surviving spouses of members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty.
- Let all veterans qualify for in-state tuition under the Post 9/11 GI bill. This bipartisan provision was introduced by the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. A similar provision also passed the House unanimously.
- Extends a program, which is about to expire, that provides housing for veterans who are struggling with traumatic brain injury.