Amata Highlights Expansion of VA Care Access
Washington, D.C. – Thursday, Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata thanked retiring Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe in his final hearing of the full Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (HVAC), as the Committee’s hearing included work on legislation he sponsored. Dr. Roe has served 12 years with dedication in Congress, in addition to his service in the Army and as a physician.
“I too want to add my gratitude to Dr. Roe, for your service, your leadership, and you’ve been like a mentor to me,” said Congresswoman Amata, before proceeding to the legislative topic.
Congresswoman Amata and Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe (center) as Chairman Mark Takano speaks (file photo)
Rep. Amata highlighted legislative efforts to expand access to care provided by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). The oversight hearing was titled, “A Time for Change: Assessing the Need to Modernize Veteran Eligibility for Care." The hearing discussed veteran eligibility to enroll in the VA healthcare system. That ability to enroll is based on an enrollment priority group system that was established in the Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996.
The Committee examined how well that system serves the current generation of servicemembers and veterans, identifying the issues faced by those who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service, or those who were discharged without the designation honorable.
Members of Congress also discussed Dr. Roe’s bill, H.R. 7469, the Modernizing Veterans' Healthcare Eligibility Act, which is based on a recommendation from the bipartisan Commission on Care to establish an expert body to develop recommendations for VA care eligibility and benefits.
Congresswoman Amata in Wednesday’s hearing
Congresswoman Amata directed her questions to Mr. Sidath Panangala, Specialist in Veterans Policy with the Congressional Research Service, asking if Congress and the VA were successfully expanding care. His answer confirmed a statistical expansion trend over the years, and an ongoing increase in the percentage of Veterans seeking and needing VA health systems.
“From this testimony, we can conclude that H.R. 7469, if enacted, would result in increased eligibility for care for veterans,” Amata said. “We want to continue moving forward in this historic trend. This generation of Veterans, and the next, should be able to count on more access to care.”