|“Today, we changed the light from red to green to build a new and larger clinic in Lafayette to provide quality and local health care for veterans in Acadiana" — Sen. Mary Landrieu|
A Senate Bill passed Thursday now awaits the president’s signature authorizing long-awaited reforms of the Veterans Affairs Administration, including new clinics for Lafayette and Lake Charles.
According to a press release issued Thursday afternoon by Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office, the bill includes measures aimed at increasing health care access and providing more transparency for the troubled VA. It will also ensure individuals within the administration are held accountable.
The bill also addresses one of the VA’s more pressing problems: Long wait times for veterans seeking a medical appointment. To fix the issue, the bill includes a provision that provides veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic and have over 30 days for an appointment to receive treatment from a private Medicare-approved provider.
The bill also injects a much-needed $5 billion into the VA’s coffers to allow for the hiring of more doctors and nurses, as well as equipping top officials within the administration the ability to fire incompetent employees.
In early-July, according to Landrieu’s press release, the senator began coordinating with Louisiana Veterans Affairs Sec. David LaCerte to address the wait time issue impacting Louisiana’s veterans.
Landrieu, along with U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, teamed up on the legislation — in addition to demanding for the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki — to ensure two new VA clinics for Louisiana, one in Lake Charles and one in Lafayette.
“Today, we changed the light from red to green to build a new and larger clinic in Lafayette to provide quality and local health care for veterans in Acadiana,” says Landrieu in a prepared statement. “It has taken longer than it should have, but I was proud to work with Rep. Boustany and lead our delegation’s efforts to keep the promise made to the 30,000 veterans who call Acadiana home. I will work with our local officials to break ground as soon as possible.”
The bill now awaits a signature from President Barack Obama, who is expected to approve the legislation.