Boise State Public Radio
October 4, 2016
By Frankie Barnhill
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) is sponsoring a new bill that aims to make it easier for military veterans to access health care, especially in rural areas.
After scandal erupted around long wait times at Veterans Affairs hospitals in 2014, Congress approved the Veterans Choice Program. The law – which Crapo voted for – was supposed to create more options for health care by allowing veterans who live more than 40 miles away from a veterans hospital to get private health care.
But as NPR reported earlier this year, the program is far from a silver bullet. Wait times continue to be long. In Idaho, Crapo says he heard from vets in rural parts of the state who still have to travel long distances to receive care. In a video his office released Monday, the senator says his proposal will increase access to healthcare.
“Several veterans administrations allow veterans to get care in their own community,” says Crapo in the video. “My bill cuts the red tape, and eliminates confusion among all the programs by rolling all of these programs into one.”
The bill has been referred to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. According to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 132,000 veterans live in Idaho.