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Senator Hassan Helps Shut Down the VA AIR Commission Process that Threatened NH Veterans’ Access to Care

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan worked with a bipartisan group of her colleagues to end the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission process that threatened New Hampshire veterans’ care. Senator Hassan has consistently pushed back on recommendations to this Commission, which included closing VA clinics in Littleton and Conway, and moving outpatient surgical care from the Manchester VA Medical Center to community providers.

 

See below for coverage highlights:

 

Union Leader: Rural VA clinics will remain open after Hassan, others scuttle administration proposal

By Kevin Landrigan

 

Small health care clinics for veterans in Littleton and Conway will remain open after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan, blocked Biden administration plans that also would have moved an outpatient care unit out of the Manchester VA Medical Center.

 

A proposed report from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission came from a 2018 Mission Act that Congress passed to right-size the real estate of VA medical centers across the country.

 

While the Trump administration had first proposed this process, Denis McDonough, Biden’s VA secretary, had also embraced it.

 

Hassan, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, joined with a dozen senators from both political parties to announce they would oppose confirming appointees to this commission.

 

Last March, Biden forwarded eight commission nominees to the U.S. Senate.

 

This decision effectively ended the commission’s work, the senators said in a joint statement.

 

“We share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that upholds our obligations to America’s veterans,” the senators said.

 

[…] “The commission is not necessary for our continued push to invest in VA health infrastructure, and together we remain dedicated to providing the Department with the resources and tools it needs to continue delivering quality care and earned services to veterans in 21st century facilities — now and into the future,” the senators said.

 

The action earlier this week followed several steps Hassan had taken to oppose the process.

 

In March, Hassan grilled McDonough on the recommendations and urged the VA reconsider them.

 

“We need to protect veterans’ access to care and ensure that we always keep our promise to support veterans after they sacrificed so much for our country,” Hassan said.

 

“I’m glad to join this bipartisan effort to support our veterans by blocking the harmful recommendations.”

 

In April, Hassan hosted a field hearing in Manchester to take testimony against these changes.

 

“Furthermore, the proposal to move outpatient surgical care from Manchester to community providers is a top concern of mine,” Hassan said at that time.

 

“VA services should be bolstered, not moved outside of the VA.”

 

[…] In May, Hassan sponsored a bipartisan bill to eliminate the commission altogether, which had the support of Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D.

 

Caledonian Record: Hassan: Closure Of Littleton Veterans Administration Clinic Off The Table

By Robert Blechl

 

Several months ago, local veterans and community members expressed concerns that the Veterans Administration community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC), launched in 2015 along Cottage Street and serving more than 2,000 area veterans, was recommended for closure.

 

[…] But on Wednesday, the office of U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, announced that the closures of the clinics are now off the table and the clinics will remain open.

 

[…] Local veterans were pleased by the turn of events.

 

“It’s great news for our veterans in the North Country,” said Joe Clark, national Veterans of Foreign Wars councilman for the state of New Hampshire and past commander of Littleton’s VFW Post 816. “I’m very impressed that she did that and was in the bipartisan group to help stop the closures in northern New Hampshire.”

 

Conway Daily Sun: Plan dropped to close Conway, Littleton VA clinics

By Terry Leavitt

 

Members of New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation issued news releases on Wednesday lauded the end of a Veterans Affairs commission that had recommended closing outpatient clinics in Conway and Littleton.

 

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in her release that she worked with a bipartisan group of her colleagues including Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to end the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission process that threatened New Hampshire veterans’ care.

 

[…] Hassan said she has consistently pushed back on recommendations to this commission, which included closing VA clinics in Littleton and Conway, and moving outpatient surgical care from the Manchester VA Medical Center to community providers. The plan would have left no outpatient VA clinic in northern New Hampshire.

The Conway Community Based Outpatient Clinic opened in 2010 and serves more than 1,000 veterans.

 

“As senators, we share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that upholds our obligations to America’s veterans,” the senators said in a joint statement. “We believe the recommendations put forth to the AIR Commission are not reflective of that goal, and would put veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move forward. The commission is not necessary for our continued push to invest in VA health infrastructure, and together we remain dedicated to providing the department with the resources and tools it needs to continue delivering quality care and earned services to veterans in 21st century facilities — now and into the future.”

 

[…] Wednesday’s announcement from the senators follows Hassan’s efforts to highlight the harm that the recommendations would do to New Hampshire and her bipartisan push to end the commission. Hassan previously introduced legislation to eliminate the VA AIR Commission and pressed McDonough on the issue.

 

In introducing a bill to eliminate the commission in May, Hassan said: “I have been raising alarm bells on the VA’s recommendations to the AIR Commission to close clinics in Littleton and Conway, and move outpatient surgical care from Manchester to community providers. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been fighting back against recommendations as well. … We need to protect veterans’ access to care and ensure that we always keep our promise to support veterans after they sacrificed so much for our country.”

 

Hassan also led New Hampshire and Vermont senators in calling on the VA to protect veterans’ access to care in their states after the AIR Commission recommendations came out in March, and held a field hearing in Manchester to highlight this and other issues facing New Hampshire veterans.

 

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