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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Congressman Jason Smith Capitol Report: The Bureaucratic VA Needs Real Reform

  • Forty-five years after American innovation sent man to the moon, the VA is still processing claims on paper. The Department of Veterans Affairs was created in 1930 and has been reluctant to accept technological and administrative advancements throughout its 84 year history.
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  • Forty-five years after American innovation sent man to the moon, the VA is still processing claims on paper. The Department of Veterans Affairs was created in 1930 and has been reluctant to accept technological and administrative advancements throughout its 84 year history. The result is a backlog that makes the process of seeing a doctor a troublesome or sometimes unnavigable task for our veterans. I am committed to assisting veterans in Southeast and South-Central Missouri who truly deserve a VA that is working for them. The failings of the antiquated VA have had real and serious consequences for far too long. Wait times of more than three months for the patriots who defend our freedoms is absolutely unacceptable. Once our veterans return home, they should never have to worry about receiving the benefits they have earned. The VA suffers from not only outdated technology, but also burdensome bureaucracy and is overdue for an upgrade.
    The men and women who have made sacrifices for our freedoms deserve our immediate action. The House has moved on three key pieces of legislation to deliver relief to our veterans. I cosponsored and voted for H.R. 4031, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act and H.R. 4810, the Veteran Access to Care Act. H.R. 4031 gives the Secretary of the VA the authority to hold executives accountable for their failings. H.R. 4810 provides non-VA medical care to veterans who have experienced unacceptable wait times or have to drive more than 40 miles to a VA medical facility. These bills passed in the House, but are still waiting in conference for Senate approval.
    I have also cosponsored H.R. 5131, the Act Now for Veterans Act. H.R. 5131 requires the VA to cover private care for Veterans that have to wait more than 30 days from their requested appointment with a VA provider. Our service members put so much on hold while serving our country. When they return, they shouldn’t experience arduous delays. It is important that we recognize unreasonable burdens such as long waits and eliminate these barriers for our veterans.
    These bills would make targeted and real changes to the VA system, but they cannot be implemented until they are passed by the Senate and sworn into law. Any institution that has been resistant to improvement for 84 years cannot efficiently or effectively help those who rely on its services. The medical needs of our veterans are urgent, and it is our duty to expedite improvements. Our veterans will always come first and I am committed to ensuring they have access to prompt and reliable healthcare services.

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