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Senator Lankford Applauds Passage of Bill to Expand Veterans’ Access to Healthcare

CLICK HERE to view the speech

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today voted in support of the VA MISSION Act (S. 2372). The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act, or VA MISSION Act for short, includes significant reforms to improve the VA’s current healthcare delivery system and help provide veterans with more choice and fewer barriers to healthcare. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support by a vote of 92-5. The bill passed the House last week 347-70 and was renamed to honor some of the veterans that serve or who have served in Congress: John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson. The bill will now go to the President for his signature.

“The VA MISSION Act will dramatically change the way the VA delivers care to better serve those who have served us, and I am proud to support it.  The medical professionals who serve each day at the VA have a passion to help our veterans.  Unfortunately, the VA has not always been able to provide the timely or specialty healthcare our veterans deserve,” said Lankford. “This important legislation will streamline the VA’s seven community care programs into a more efficient ‘Veterans Community Care Program’ so veterans can have faster access to quality healthcare that is closer to their home.  This bill also gives more control to the veteran and their family for their healthcare decisions.”

During Lankford’s floor speech on the bill, he shared a story of a veteran in Oklahoma who was required to travel to Seattle, Washington for care.

Speech Excerpts:

(0:10-0:40) I do want to thank Chairman Isakson for the work that he’s done on this. It’s been a long road to be able to work through to reforming the VA. The VA is exceptionally complicated. There are a lot of interests that are engaged with this. He’s heard a lot of voices from all over the country and all over this town to be able to help resolve some of the issues and bring them together. This is exceptionally important, though, for our veterans, especially for our veterans that live in rural areas very far from healthcare.

(1:39-2:53) Mr. Chairman, you and I have spoken on this briefly before, but I have a veteran in my state that was at the Muskogee facility who was getting great care. I stopped by to visit veterans in the Muskogee facility, just went room to room visiting people, checking on them and their care. I asked him how he was doing. He said great nurses, great doctors, has really done well. My next question was is this your first time to be in this facility? He said well, no, kind of. I had cancer treatments a couple of years ago, but they couldn’t do it here in my town. They sent me to Seattle to get my cancer treatments. To which I said did your family get to go? And he said no, sir, they couldn’t go. So that was the best facility. He said I got good care there, but I went a long way and spent months and months away from my family getting chemo, radiation, and surgery and then follow-up. He would have loved to have done that at any number of cancer facilities in Oklahoma. In fact, in Oklahoma City, there is a National Cancer Institute, one of the top two percent of all the cancer hospitals in the country is right down the road.