(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Thursday, Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Susie Lee (D-NV) introduced bipartisan legislation, the VA Telehealth Expansion Act, to improve and expand telehealth services for veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
This bill seeks to expand access to VA telehealth, by authorizing the VA to give grants to outside partners to create and improve telehealth access points for veterans. Quality telehealth services have been vital for veterans to access quality health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for veterans in rural or medically underserved communities.
“The past few months have shown how an unexpected crisis can complicate the VA’s mission,” said Rep. Banks. “Our bill is common-sense, bipartisan, and improves the VA’s ability to provide veterans with high-quality care no matter the circumstance.”
“We cannot let this pandemic compromise health care services for our veterans and service members,” said Rep. Lee. “Because of COVID-19, telehealth video visits at VA have increased by over 1,000 percent between March and June of this year. Even though VA has expanded their telehealth capacity, many veterans still have limited access to telehealth services. There’s clearly no time for excuses. It’s our responsibility to adapt to the changes thrown our way. Our bipartisan bill will make sure that local VA facilities have the capacity and the technology to provide telehealth services, and that veterans in all communities have access to the quality health services they’ve earned.”
The grant program enacted under the VA Telehealth Expansion Act would be designed to give preference to VA entities that represent veterans in rural or highly rural areas or operate in a medically underserved community.