January 05, 2018

Bipartisan VETS Act Passes Senate

Hirono-Ernst Measure Would Improve Veterans’ Access to Health Care by Expanding VA Telehealth Services

The bipartisan Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act, introduced by Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) unanimously passed the Senate. This legislation seeks to improve veterans’ access to health care services by expanding telehealth services – including mental health treatment - provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“The VETS Act will help Hawaii veterans access high quality VA care and health services when they need it, where they need it,” said Senator Hirono. “I urge the swift enactment of the bill and will continue to fight to ensure Hawaii veterans can access the care they need from a strong, well-resourced VA system.”

“All of our veterans must have access to quality and timely care, including life-saving mental health treatment, regardless of where they live,” said Senator Ernst. “The VETS Act would allow Iowa’s rural or disabled veterans to receive care from their own home by increasing telehealth and telemedicine services provided by the VA. With more than 200,000 veterans across Iowa, I am thrilled to see our bipartisan effort advance through the U.S. Senate so we can continue working to ensure better care for those who have sacrificed so much.”

The VETS Act seeks to improve health care access for disabled or rural veterans by expanding telehealth services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by allowing VA health officials to practice telemedicine across state lines if they are qualified and practice within the scope of their authorized federal duties. Senators Hirono and Ernst first introduced the VETS Act in 2015, and reintroduced it in the 115th Congress in April of 2017.

Senator Hirono is a consistent and outspoken advocate for expanding health care access for Hawaii’s veterans. Last year, Senator Hirono worked successfully with veterans on Maui and Kauai to secure VA approval for lease agreements to build long-delayed Community Based Outreach Clinics on both islands.

Earlier this week, Senator Hirono announced that the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved a resolution that would allow the VA to move forward with the leasing process for the future Leeward Oahu VA Outpatient Clinic.