November 10, 2015
Washington, DC- Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01) introduced legislation with bipartisan support to give America’s veterans faster and better access to quality health care outside the problem-plagued Veterans Health Administration.
Congressman Norcross, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, authored the Veterans Freedom of Health Care Act. The Act would allow America’s heroes to use their VA benefits at the health care provider of their choice, like a doctor in their own town, instead of having to travel to a different city or state for an appointment.
“These veterans didn’t wait to answer the call of duty to serve and protect our freedoms. They shouldn’t have to wait for quality health care. They deserve the freedom to choose their own health care provider,” said Rep. Norcross.
A 2014 wait time scandal at the Phoenix, Arizona VA exposed systemic failures and lapses in care at VA facilities across the United States, including South Jersey. As a result, Congress approved more funding that allowed the VA to hire additional staff. But, the problems persist, with reports of hundreds of thousands of U.S. veterans still waiting months just to be seen.
Congress also created a pilot program known as Veterans Choice, which allows those who’ve been waiting 30 days or more and live more than 40 miles from a VA facility to receive care outside the VA system. However, it was only designed for the most rural areas of our country and doesn’t address the needs of South Jersey veterans.
Congressman Norcross’ bill makes veterans choice permanent and expands the program to all veterans, regardless of how far they live from the nearest VA facility. Additionally, the Veterans Freedom of Health Care Act guarantees those who wish to receive their health care through the VA system can keep it.
“Many of these veterans didn’t have the choice when it came to military service. Now, they deserve a choice. A choice of where they wish to go for health care, and when. And by the best caregivers America can provide,” said Rep. Norcross.
The Veterans Freedom of Health Care Act has the support of Democrats, Republicans, local veterans’ organizations and health care providers.
Congressman Donald Norcross is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Budget Committee, and serves as an Assistant Whip in the 114th Congress.