I am proud that Alaska has more veterans per-capita than any other state. I believe the men and women who fought for our country deserve the health care and benefits they were promised. Cutting veteran benefits and increasing health care costs is not the way our country should be reducing spending.
On April 30, 2015, I voted for H.R. 2029, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act for FY16. This bill funds the nation’s military infrastructure needs, as well as veterans’ benefits and programs. Overall, it provides $68.7 billion in for the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that we fulfill our commitment to our nation’s veterans – an increase of almost $4 billion from FY15. This increase will better contribute to our nation’s ongoing effort to care for our veterans who have become injured or sick in the line of duty.
The FY16 Military Construction and Veterans Administration Appropriations bill will continue the partnerships built between the VA and the Indian Health Service (IHS), which has permitted veterans residing in rural Alaska to obtain medical services from tribal health organizations.
With approximately 33% of all VA Health Care enrollees living in rural areas, our nation is in dire need of programs like the Rural Health Initiative. Our veterans deserve 21st century attention and care, and there is no reason we shouldn’t have programs across the country like the ones we’ve developed in rural Alaska.”
VA funding of Alaskan interest that I supported:
- Rural Health Initiative: $250 million to continue the VA’s rural health initiative to provide access and quality care to Veterans in rural areas, including home-based primary care, rural Community Based Outpatient Clinics, transportation of rural Veterans, and home-based therapies.
- Indian Health Services Reimbursement: $28 million to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) for direct health care services provided to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans in IHS facilities.
- Telehealth Services: $1.2 billion to increase and improve telehealth services for veterans. The program will significantly improve access to medical advice, reduce the time and cost associated with care, and increase the probability veterans in rural areas will receive the care they need.
Overall, I believe that Congress has a responsibility to ensure that promises made to our veterans and active duty personnel are kept. All veterans and their families have made tremendous sacrifices for the safety of our nation and I am proud to have always been a proponent of our nation’s military and our veterans.