Warner on New VA Recommendations to Realign and Modernize VA Health Care

By:Valeria Rivadeneira

~ On new VA recommendations to realign and modernize VA health care ~ 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the statement below after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a new report with recommendations to realign and modernize the VA health care system nationwide:

“For years, I’ve pushed to make sure that Virginia’s veterans have access to quality and timely health care that they have earned through years of service to our country. I’m pleased to see the Department of Veterans Affairs issue these critical recommendations as a preliminary but notable step in meeting its obligations under the VA MISSION Act of 2018 – legislation I was proud to support. I look forward to engaging with veterans and communities around Virginia to make sure that these recommendations would live up to their stated aim of effectively meeting the future health care demands of our growing veteran population here in the Commonwealth.”

These recommendations come as a result of a nationwide analysis commissioned by Warner-supported legislation to determine whether health facilities are best aligned to meet the future needs and demands of the veteran population.  The Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) report includes the findings of a multi-year, nationwide review that evaluates a number of factors in the VA health care system, including facility quality, and geographic distribution relative to veteran population.

Among others, the report recommends constructing new VA Medical Centers (VAMC) in Newport News, Norfolk, and Roanoke, as well as relocating certain services to more modern and conveniently located facilities for veterans, and establishing new community-based outpatient clinics in places like Bedford, Mechanicsville, Petersburg, and Chesterfield. These recommendations seek to increase VA capacity, and expand access to a variety of services as needed, including primary care, residential rehabilitation treatment programs, community living centers, outpatient mental health, and outpatient surgical and specialty care services.

Over the next year, the bipartisan, presidentially appointed and congressionally approved AIR Commission will review those recommendations. During this time, stakeholders, veterans, and members of the community will have an opportunity to evaluate the report and submit any feedback to the commission, which will hold public hearings, visit VA facilities, meet with employees and VA partners, and listen to veterans in order to assess the recommendations before submitting them, along with any necessary changes, to President Biden. If the President ultimately signs off on the final recommendations, Congress will have 45 days to reject or accept the entire slate of recommendations.

During his time in the Senate, Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for improving care for Virginia’s veterans. In 2015, confronted with wait times in Hampton Roads that were three times the national average, Sen. Warner successfully urged the VA to send down a team of experts to address the problem. He also succeeded in getting the Northern Virginia Technology Council to issue a free report detailing how to reduce wait times. Most recently, in October 2020, Sen. Warner successfully saw through the signing of his legislation to expand veterans’ access to mental health services and reduce the alarming rate of veteran suicide. He’s also previously met with senior leadership at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center and Hampton VA Medical Center to discuss wait time reduction at their facilities and suicide prevention efforts. 

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