Rep. O’Halleran Introduces Bill to Improve Rural Veteran Nursing Care
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, a day before the country celebrates and honors the service of our veterans, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the Fairness for Rural Veterans Act, a bill that will make it easier for rural communities to compete for federal funding to build new state veterans nursing homes. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) and Congressman Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) are original cosponsors of the legislation.
“With more than 500,000 veterans across Arizona, the need for long-term care facilities for veterans is ever-increasing, but, for many living in rural communities, the existing state facilities in Phoenix and Tucson are out of reach,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Rural projects often face greater hurdles to receiving matching VA funds than those in larger states or metropolitan areas, creating a disparity in care between our rural and non-rural veterans. I am proud to introduce a commonsense solution that helps close that disparity and expands access to care where it’s needed.”
Under the current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs uses a priority list based on demographics and need to determine rankings for projects to receive funding. The list does not take into account how far veterans and their families have to travel. This process makes it difficult for projects in rural communities to compete for funding. According to the VA, Arizona has a significant need for beds for veterans. This year, proposed projects in Flagstaff and Yuma were ranked 43rd and 44th under the priority list. The VA funded the first 14 projects among those ranked.
The Fairness for Rural Veterans Act creates a new priority group for the VA to consider in its process for ranking projects across the country. The new priority group includes projects in states deemed by the VA to have a great or significant need for beds which are located at least 100 miles away from the nearest state veterans home.
See the full text of the legislation here.