July 28, 2014


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Conference Committee, today announced a bipartisan compromise agreement between the Senate and House on legislation to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs delivery of health care to ensure quality, timely health care for veterans.

In the compromise deal, which will be voted on this week, Hirono secured funding for the planned VA Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access Center, allowing veterans access to care through the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, and an exemption that takes into account Hawaii’s island geography and allows Hawaii veterans the choice to see private health care providers in their communities. This bill also focuses on making the VA leadership more accountable and able to recruit more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.

“Today we’ve reached a deal that will help Hawaii veterans access the care they need, reform the way we hold VA officials accountable, and work to recruit more doctors and health care professionals to care for our veterans – but our work doesn’t stop here,” said Hirono. “In talking with Hawaii veterans, one thing is clear, there are many issues within the VA that need to be addressed. I’m proud that we were able to work together with our colleagues in the House and look forward to continuing to improve VA care and services – our veterans deserve nothing less.”  

“Senator Hirono was a tireless advocate for Hawaii veterans in our conference committee. Her dedication and commitment to the veterans in her state helped shape this bill, which will work to help veterans access quality care in a timely manner,” said Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “In particular, Senator Hirono advocated for funds for the VA Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access Center, provisions to support the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, and an exemption that helps Hawaii veterans. I thank her for her work on behalf of veterans.” 


Hirono has hosted roundtables with veterans across Hawaii this year and plans to hold a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee field hearing in Hawaii in August.

Hawaii benefits in the bill include:

  • $15,887,370 in authorized funds for the planned VA Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access Center on Oahu. 
  • Allows for healthcare contracts with the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, community health centers, and DOD.
  • Allows veterans who live 40 miles or more from a VA health facility and are unable to obtain an appointment within 30 days the option to see a private health care professional, including Medicare providers.
  • An exception to the 40-mile rule for veterans who are required to travel by air, boat, or ferry to a VA medical facility.  Many Hawaii veterans, who live within 40-miles from a VA medical center, are required to overcome many obstacles and travel all day to receive care at a VA medical facility. This bill would offer them the choice to see a private health care provider within their community.
  • Provides University of Hawaii veteran students the in-state tuition rate beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.