A dozen U.S. senators are rejecting a plan by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to close or overhaul hospitals and medical facilities that no longer meet the healthcare needs of veterans, according to a statement from Sen. Mike Rounds. The senators, six of whom serve on the Senate VA Committee, said they would not proceed with nominees to serve on the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission. Under the 2018 MISSION Act, the commission is supposed to review the VA’s recommendations released in March on the way it expects to review and make changes to the VA’s stock of medical facilities.
“As senators, we share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that upholds our obligations to America’s veterans.” according to the statement. “We believe the recommendations put forth to the AIR Commission are not reflective of that goal and would put veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move forward. The commission is not necessary for our continued push to invest in VA health infrastructure, and together we remain dedicated to providing the department with the resources and tools it needs to continue delivering quality care and earned services to veterans in 21st Century facilities now and into the future.”
The VA MISSION Act established a new process for the development, review, approval and implementation of a list of recommendations for the modernization and realignment of VHA medical facilities. The act requires the VA Secretary to develop an initial list of recommendations, including acquiring new space, the modernization of existing space and the disposal of unneeded space.
The act also established a commission, a panel of nine members nominated by the president and approved by the Senate that reviews the recommendations submitted by the VA secretary. But the panel does not yet exist because all of the nominees have yet to be confirmed by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and voted on by the Senate. Without the Senate’s approval of the nominees, no Commission will be established, and the process as outlined by the act will not proceed.