Bennet, Senate Send VA Reform Bill to President's Desk

Bennet Cosponsored Bipartisan Legislation

Continues to Push for Structural Reforms to Deliver Services that Colorado Veterans Earned 

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined his Senate colleagues to give final approval to a bipartisan bill designed to help address the extreme delays many veterans face when they attempt to access health care services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The vote sends the bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“Colorado’s veterans have sacrificed in service to our country, and they deserve the benefits they’ve earned in a timely manner,” Bennet said. “This bill is only one step in addressing the systemic issues at the VA. We must be diligent as these changes are implemented and the VA’s new leadership tackles the structural reforms that are necessary to be effective and responsive. That means going beyond the delivery of health care services to improving access to care in rural areas and improving the process for building new health care facilities, like the Regional Medical Center in Aurora. These are priorities for Colorado’s veterans, and they deserve nothing less.”

The bill includes a bipartisan proposal supported by Bennet that would enlist private sector technology companies to assist the VA in assessing and fixing problems with its scheduling system that have led to the extreme delays.

The bill also would:

  • Give veterans access to certain local non-VA providers if the VA is unable to provide care within a reasonable time or the veteran lives more than 40 miles from a VA facility.
  • Provide for the firing of poorly-performing senior officials, while also including an expedited appeals process to prevent the new authority from being abused for political purposes or other reasons.
  • Provide VA with funds to hire additional primary care providers, specialty care providers, and other clinical staff to increase its capacity to provide high quality health care to our nation’s veterans.
  • Make funding available to address its backlog of infrastructure needs and enter into emergency leases that would directly improve veterans’ access to care.
  • Help improve the delivery of care to veterans who experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military.

Since news of systemic problems within the Veterans Health Administration was brought to light, Bennet has urged VA leadership to quickly assess the problems and make the necessary changes to address them. Last month, he joined members of the Colorado delegation in requesting the administration provide results of the VA’s internal audit relating to Colorado facilities. He also requested that the VA Inspector General include all facilities that serve veterans in Colorado in its ongoing investigation.  Bennet also joined a bipartisan group of senators in urging the administration to accept assistance from technology companies to help fix the broken VA scheduling system. Additionally, at Bennet’s request, the Inspector General has launched an investigation into the planning, contract award, construction and overall management of the new VA hospital in Aurora, which has been plagued by delays.