November 07, 2017

Senator Hassan Cosponsors Bipartisan VETS Act to Improve Health Care Access for Veterans with Disabilities and Those in Rural Areas

WASHINGTON – Ahead of Veterans Day, Senator Maggie Hassan today cosponsored the bipartisan Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support Act of 2017 (VETS Act), legislation that would improve health care access – including mental health treatment – for veterans who experience disabilities or those who live in rural areas by expanding telehealth services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“Veterans in New Hampshire and across the United States have shown strength, resolve, and devotion to duty in defense of our country and the values that we hold dear, and we owe it to them to ensure that they have the best care possible,” Senator Hassan said. “Expanding telehealth services for rural veterans or veterans who experience disabilities is a bipartisan, common-sense step we can take to fulfill the promises we’ve made to our service members, and I will work with members of both parties to pass this important legislation.”

Historically the VA has only performed at-home telehealth services when the patient and provider are located in the same state. Such requirements prevent veterans from seeking treatment from a provider in another state that may be closer to their home. In some cases, veterans also must travel great lengths to a federal facility instead of receiving telehealth services. The VA has recently begun the process of removing some of the regulations that currently stand in the way of providing at-home telehealth services.

The VETS Act fully addresses these barriers by allowing qualified VA health professionals to operate across state lines and conduct telehealth services, including vital mental health care treatment, for veterans from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. The bill also ensures that the VA and Congress provide oversight of the VA’s telehealth program by requiring the VA to measure program effectiveness.

The VETS Act was introduced by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and is endorsed by the American Legion, American Telemedicine Association, Coalition for Health IT Now, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Click here to read the full text of the VETS Act.