Daines Helps Introduce Bill to Ensure Veterans’ Access to Local Healthcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Steve Daines has joined Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and a bipartisan coalition of Senators to introduce legislation to ensure Montana veterans have local access to the healthcare services they need.

The bill, the Veterans Access to Community Care Act of 2015 (S. 207), would allow veterans to access community healthcare providers if the veteran lives more than 40 miles driving distance—rather than as the crow flies—from the closest VA medical facility that could provide the services the veteran needs.

“Thousands of Montana veterans live hundreds of miles away from their closest VA healthcare facility. This bill ensures that the men and women who have served our nation have local access to the healthcare resources they need,” Daines stated. “We must protect our veterans’ hard-earned benefits and ensure their healthcare needs are being fully met. This bill is an important step in our continued work to achieve that goal for Montana veterans.”

S. 207 is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Angus King (I-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The bill has received the support of the National Guard Association of the United States and numerous rural health organizations, including the National Rural Health Association, the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors, the National Association of Rural Mental Health and the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Daines has long called for reforms to improve the care and services provided to Montana’s veterans and ensure that the VA meets veterans’ healthcare needs efficiently and effectively. As a member of the House of Representatives, Daines also helped pass the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which provides $7.5 billion for programs designed to address veterans’ mental health needs and increases funding for suicide prevention outreach by $20 million.