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PASSED: Lankford, Inhofe, Fischer Keep VA Hospital Construction Moving through Inflation without Adding to National Debt

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – As inflation remains at a 40-year high, a bill to help address those costs in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) construction by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Deb Fischer (R-NE), the CHIP-IN Improvement Act of 2022, has unanimously passed the Senate. The bill would simply allow the VA to use existing funds to offset 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.

“Today’s another good day for Oklahoma veterans and their families who are excited that we’re one step closer to fully funding the ongoing work to construct a new state-of-the-art veterans hospital in Tulsa,” said Lankford. “Our bill ensures we can move available funds within the VA to keep this important project for our heroes moving forward despite increased costs from our 40-year high inflation. I’m grateful for Senator Fischer’s work to establish the CHIP-In program and Senator Inhofe’s partnership to bring these quality facilities to our veterans. Now we look forward to passage in the House and signature by the President.”

“We must stand up for our veterans and ensure they have the best care possible and plenty of access to resources,” Inhofe said. “Many veterans have visible and invisible wounds that will require extensive care now and into the future. I am glad that the Senate has chosen to pass the legislation I introduced alongside Sens. Lankford and Fischer that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to offset inflation costs and ensure the Tulsa VA hospital is open on time and ready to serve our veterans. After breaking ground on the Tulsa VA Hospital, I am glad we are one step closer to ensuring they have the ability to provide our Oklahoma veterans with the care they have earned. I urge my colleagues in the House to take up and pass this important legislation as soon as possible.”

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.

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. An estimated two-thirds of the 1,800 veterans in northeast Oklahoma 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.