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Bipartisan VETS Act Passes Senate

January 5, 2018, 11:25 AM HST (Updated January 5, 2018, 11:25 AM)
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Introduced by Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the bipartisan Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act unanimously passed the Senate. This legislation seeks to improve veterans’ access to healthcare services by expanding telehealth services—including mental health treatment—provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“The VETS Act will help Hawai‘i veterans access high quality VA care and health services when they need it, where they need it,” said Sen. Hirono. “I urge the swift enactment of the bill and will continue to fight to ensure Hawai‘i veterans can access the care they need from a strong, well-resourced VA system.”

“All of our veterans must have access to quality and timely care, including life-saving mental health treatment, regardless of where they live,” said Sen. Ernst. “The VETS Act would allow Iowa’s rural or disabled veterans to receive care from their own home by increasing telehealth and telemedicine services provided by the VA. With more than 200,000 veterans across Iowa, I am thrilled to see our bipartisan effort advance through the U.S. Senate so we can continue working to ensure better care for those who have sacrificed so much.”

The VETS Act seeks to improve healthcare access for disabled or rural veterans by expanding telehealth services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by allowing VA health officials to practice telemedicine across state lines if they are qualified and practice within the scope of their authorized federal duties. Sens. Hirono and Ernst first introduced the VETS Act in 2015 and reintroduced it in the 115th Congress in April of 2017.

Sen. Hirono is a consistent and outspoken advocate for expanding healthcare access for Hawai‘i’s veterans. Last year, Sen. Hirono worked successfully with veterans on Maui and Kaua‘i to secure VA approval for lease agreements to build long-delayed community based outreach clinics on both islands.

Earlier this week, Sen. Hirono announced that the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved a resolution that would allow the VA to move forward with the leasing process for the future Leeward O‘ahu VA outpatient clinic.

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