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Lankford, Inhofe, Fischer Want to Ensure Tulsa VA Hospital Is Finished Despite Raging Inflation of Biden Economy

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) was joined by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) to introduce legislation to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use existing funds to offset the cost of inflation to build a 275,000-square-foot, 58-bed medical-surgical hospital in Tulsa, which is set to be complete in late 2023 and open for patients in late 2024.

“Once completed, the new and renovated facilities of the Tulsa VA will bring advanced health care options to help veterans achieve their health goals and give their families options so we can meet their needs with the highest level of care,” said Lankford. “We broke ground on this great new facility late last year, and we need to be sure construction can keep moving, even as the Biden 9.1-percent inflation seeks to setback this important construction project. Our bill ensures we can move available funds within the VA to keep this important project for our veterans on track. I thank Senator Fischer for her leadership in establishing the CHIP-In program and thank Senator Inhofe for his partnership in ensuring we can bring these quality facilities to our veterans.”

“Ensuring our veterans have the best care possible and ample access to the resources they deserve has been a long-time priority of mine,” Inhofe said. “The most important thing we can do for our heroes is stand up for them and take care of them after their service, as promised. Many veterans have physical wounds and injuries that require extensive care now and later. But other veterans need care for wounds we can’t see. After breaking ground in Tulsa on the newest VA medical center, I am glad to introduce legislation alongside Sens. Lankford and Fischer that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to offset inflation costs and ensure this hospital is open on time and ready to provide our Oklahoma veterans with the care they have earned.”

“Thanks to my original CHIP-In for Vets Act, the city of Omaha, Nebraska now has a state of the art VA ambulatory clinic that serves hundreds of veterans. Passing this additional legislation will give more communities the opportunity to build on our success and provide more veterans with better access to care,” said Fischer.

Lankford’s bill would amend the 2016 Communities Helping Invest through Property and Improvements Needed (CHIP-IN) legislation that allows VA facilities to be constructed through a public-private partnership—resulting in lower costs and faster completion of projects. The bill would allow the VA to shift unobligated funds to help offset the additional cost of the project due to the current 9.1-percent inflation, an action that can already be done with other VA projects under CHIP-IN. This bill does not request any new funding for the project.

Eastern Oklahoma is home to over 115,000 veterans and is an important part of the national network of veterans care facilities across the country. Estimates predict that a Tulsa-area hospital would serve up to 30 percent more veterans each year. Northeast Oklahoma is currently home to more than 115,000 veterans, and an estimated two-thirds live close to Tulsa. In addition to serving more veterans, a VA hospital in Tulsa would reduce driving time significantly for a majority of veterans and would give access to a broader array of social services.

The new VA hospital is funded partially through the CHIP-IN program, State of Oklahoma, the City of Tulsa, and a nonprofit team made up of OSU Medical and the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.

“OSU is very appreciative of the support this project has received to advance the quality of healthcare for Oklahoma’s veterans,” said Dr. Johnny Stephens, President of OSU Center for Health Sciences. “I would like to thank Senator Lankford’s leadership and Senators Inhofe and Fischer as co-sponsors of this legislation. This legislation will help the project in Tulsa but also all future VA public-private partnerships through CHIP-IN. Thank you to our Congressional delegations and the Zarrow Foundation for their steadfast advocacy. The impact this project will have on our state for veterans is truly immeasurable.”

“This bill provides for more responsive support as well as accountability around VA public-private partnerships, which already deliver efficiencies and improvements in Veterans healthcare.  It will benefit the Veterans Hospital in Tulsa but also future CHIP IN projects nationwide. All of us on the ground in Tulsa really appreciate Senator Lankford’s leadership on this issue,” said Courtney Knoblock, Director VHIT LLC, the nonprofit developer of the new VA Hospital in Tulsa, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation.