Blue Dogs Back Bill to Improve Access to Nursing Homes for Rural Veterans

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Texas Border Business

Washington — The Democratic Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed H.R. 4362, Fairness for Rural Veterans Act, a bill that makes it easier for rural communities to compete for federal funding to build new state veterans nursing homes. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), chairman of the Blue Dog Special Task Force on Rural America.

Under current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 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.

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 located at least 100 miles away from the nearest state veterans home.

“With 18.5 million American military veterans across the country—25 percent of whom live in rural communities—the need for long-term care facilities for veterans is ever-increasing,” said Rep. O’Halleran, Chairman of the Blue Dog Special Task Force on Rural America. “But, for many veterans who live in rural communities, the existing facilities are out of reach. Rural projects often face greater hurdles to receive 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 that the Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed this commonsense solution, which helps close that disparity and expands access to care where it’s needed.”

“No matter where they live, our nation’s military veterans deserve accessible, high-quality care throughout the duration of their lives,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. “For too long, rural veterans have not had the same level of access to quality care as veterans who live in metropolitan areas. Today, more than half of post-9/11 veterans live in rural areas, and our country continues to produce more veterans in need of care every day. As a nation, we cannot continue to fail to provide the care our veterans have earned. That’s why the Blue Dogs are backing commonsense solutions to ensure equal access to high-quality health care for all military veterans in all corners of the nation.”

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“Rural areas across our country are too often forgotten,” said Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration. “This legislation ensures veterans get the benefits and honor they have earned, regardless of where they live.”

The Blue Dog Coalition is an official caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives comprised of fiscally-responsible Democrats, who are leading the way to find commonsense solutions. They represent the center of the political spectrum, appealing to the mainstream values of the American public. The Blue Dogs are dedicated to pursuing fiscally-responsible policies, ensuring a strong national defense for our country, and transcending party lines to get things done for the American people. Visit our website to learn more, and get the latest news updates by following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook.