VA Must Address Wait Times for Eastern Washington Veterans

“It begins by cultivating an environment that welcomes our veterans and ensures that the quality of their care is of paramount importance.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) released the following statement in light of a recent Associate Press analysis revealing continued appointment delays at Veterans Hospitals in Washington state and across the country:

 “Not a day goes by when I don’t hear from veterans in Eastern Washington who are struggling – struggling to access quality care, and struggling with a bureaucratic system that continues to fail them. That is unacceptable. We should be honoring the men and women who have dutifully served our country, not making them feel like a burden. It begins by cultivating an environment that welcomes our veterans and ensures that the quality of their care is of paramount importance.

“I am working every day to ensure that our veterans have a strong and unwavering leader in Congress.  I’m fighting to hold the VA accountable and to create a 21st-century agency that prioritizes the safety and well-being of Eastern Washington’s veterans. As a part of those efforts, last month I supported the Long-Term Care Veteran Choice Act, which helps our veterans access care. Their wellbeing must always be the priority. As I continue the fight to modernize the VA, I will stand up for Eastern Washington’s veterans the same way they have so valiantly stood up for us.”   

The Congresswoman has been a longtime champion of reforming and modernizing the VA, and she had her staff meet regularly with Spokane VA and Walla Walla VA to address concerns that have been raised with her office. In November, following the Spokane VA’s announcement it would reduce hours at the Emergency Department, she wrote a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald seeking an explanation, and continues to advocate for improved access to care for Spokane veterans.

This past July, the Congresswoman supported the bipartisan Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014, for which she was an original co-sponsor. This legislation enables veterans who live over 40 miles from a VA facility to receive non-VA care, and guarantees those veterans who have experienced extensive wait times access to non-VA care. Click here to read the Congresswoman’s June Q&A with the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin about the work she is doing to modernize the VA and advocate for veterans, and here to read her Union-Bulletin op-ed about these ongoing efforts.

In March, the Congresswoman became an original co-sponsor of the Veterans Access to Community Care Act of 2015, which clarifies the 40-mile rule and would ensure Eastern Washington veterans are not denied access to quality care because of where they live.

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