Rutherford Statement on VA MISSION Act Passing Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted to advance H.R. 5674, the Department of Veterans Affairs Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks, or VA MISSION Act. This bill includes Congressman John Rutherford’s (R-FL) Veterans Affairs Physician Recruitment Act, which will strengthen the VA’s ability to recruit and retain quality providers through scholarships, attractive loan repayment plans, and a pilot program that will increase the number of providers who are veterans themselves. According to a recent Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General report, the provider shortage at VA is already in a critical state and will only continue to get worse without changes to the system. This legislation gives VA the tools it needs to attract and retain physicians now and in the future, improving the quality and access to care for our nation’s veterans.
Upon the Committee’s passage of this legislation, Congressman Rutherford released the following statement:
“Taking care of our veterans is our duty as a Congress and as Americans,” said Rutherford. “The VA MISSION Act addresses the numerous requests from VA leadership, veteran service organizations, and veterans in my district who have asked Congress and the VA to urgently work together. Streamlining the VA’s Community Care programs, expanding the caregiver program, instituting a fiscally responsible asset review, and improving the VA’s ability to recruit and retain health providers makes good on promises we as a nation have made to our veterans. I am thankful to Chairman Roe for his work on this bipartisan, bicameral package and for ensuring that we put our veterans’ care at the top of our priorities, and I look forward to Congress sending this bill to the President’s desk.”
The VA MISSION Act includes several pieces of legislation that would streamline the department’s duplicative community care programs into one cohesive program; create a non-partisan process for reviewing VA’s assets to ensure veterans can access the care they have earned; and expand the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Post-9/11 Caregiver Program to all eras.
The legislation also includes funding for the Choice Program that is expected to last until the new program authorized under the VA MISSION Act is implemented. In April, Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie informed Congress that the current account would run out of funds in early to mid-June, ending the Choice Program and potentially creating another access to care crisis.
Read the full text of the bill here.