July 31, 2014


WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Mazie K. Hirono today voted to pass two major bills to help improve access to health care for our nation’s veterans and also continue key funding that improves and strengthens Hawaii roads while supporting 6,896 jobs in the islands.

The Senate’s passage of H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access to Care Act, and H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act, sends both of these important bills to President Obama for his signature. Both bills passed on strong bipartisan votes; the Veteran’s Access to Care Act by a vote of 91-3, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act by a vote of 81-13.

“Today was a good day for our veterans, and for the thousands of men and women in Hawaii who work on building our roads and bridges and the commuters and businesses that travel on them each day. The bipartisan veterans’ legislation approved today is an important first step toward fixing our broken commitment to our veterans. It will help them to quickly get the care they need, hold any bad actors at VA accountable, and invest in the facilities, doctors, and other personnel necessary to care for our veterans with dignity.” Hirono said. “I’m also glad that the Senate voted to keep funding for highway and bridge projects in Hawaii and across the country from being interrupted.”

As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Hirono was one of the bipartisan negotiators who worked to develop the final legislation which includes important provisions to benefit Hawaii veterans. Hawaii benefits in the bill include:

  • $15,887,370 in authorized funds for the planned VA Advance Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access Center on Oahu.
  • Allow 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.