Collins, Warner Lead Bipartisan Group of 18 Senators in Push to Waive Technicality That is Harming Veterans’ Access to Timely and Quality Health Care

24 medical facilities that are necessary to enable VA to deliver vital care and services to veterans in 15 states have been delayed due to a budgetary technicality

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Mark Warner (D-VA) led a bipartisan letter yesterday urging that 24 pending VA medical centers in 15 states be authorized before Congress adjourns. The letter, which was addressed to Senate leadership as well as the leadership of the Senate Appropriations and VA Committees, was signed by 18 Senators.

The funds for all 24 leases have already been appropriated by Congress, but authorization has been delayed due to a budgetary technicality. Under current rules, the Congressional Budget Office scores these leases as having large, up-front direct costs even though spending would not increase and the leases are subject to annual appropriations. As a result of this scoring issue, Congress has had difficulty authorizing major medical leases for the past three years.

In September, the Senators introduced the Providing Veterans Overdue Care Act, standalone legislation to authorize the leases.

“Veterans in each of these states deserve the timely and quality health care benefits they have earned through their service,” the Senators wrote. “As such, we ask that you work to include authorization for these leases in the December funding bill, or another appropriate vehicle, to be signed into law this year.”

The full list of leases needing authorization is below:

1. Ann Arbor, MI – Outpatient Clinic
2. Birmingham, AL – Outpatient Mental Health Clinic
3. Birmingham, AL – Outpatient Specialty Clinic
4. Boston, MA – Research Space
5. Charleston, SC – Research Space
6. Daytona Beach, FL – Outpatient Clinic
7. Denver, CO – Chief Business Office Purchased Care
8. Gainesville, FL – Outpatient Clinic
9. Hampton Roads, VA – Outpatient Clinic
10. Mission Bay, CA – Research Space
11. Missoula, MT – Outpatient Clinic
12. Northern Colorado, CO – Outpatient Clinic
13. Ocala, FL – Outpatient Clinic
14. Oxnard, CA – Outpatient Clinic
15. Pike County, GA – Outpatient Clinic
16. Portland, ME – Outpatient Clinic
17. Raleigh, NC – Outpatient Clinic
18. Santa Rosa, CA – Outpatient Clinic
19. Corpus Christi, TX – Outpatient Clinic
20. Jacksonville, FL – Outpatient Clinic
21. Pontiac, MI – Outpatient Clinic
22. Rochester, NY – Outpatient Clinic
23. Tampa – FL – Outpatient Clinic
24. Terre Haute, IN – Outpatient Clinic

The text of the bipartisan letter is below. Click HERE to read the signed PDF letter.

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November 30, 2016

The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader Democratic Leader
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Thad Cochran The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski
Chairman Vice Chairwoman
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Johnny Isakson The Honorable Richard Blumenthal
Chairman Ranking Member
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Reid, Chairman Cochran, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, Chairman Isakson, and Ranking Member Blumenthal:

We write to urge the authorization of 24 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) major medical facility leases before the 114th Congress adjourns. Funding for these leases has already been provided by Congress in previous appropriations acts. These authorizations are necessary to enable VA to deliver vital care and services to veterans across the United States.

A 2012 change in budgetary scoring of VA’s major medical leases by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has hampered the authorization of these important leases. Due to the change, the lease authorizations receive large, up-front direct spending scores covering the entire life of the lease, even though actual spending would not increase and the leases are subject to annual appropriations. This scoring issue has prevented Congress from easily authorizing major medical leases for the past three years, affecting 24 facilities across 15 states.

The full list of leases needing authorization is below:

1. Ann Arbor, MI – Outpatient Clinic
2. Birmingham, AL – Outpatient Mental Health Clinic
3. Birmingham, AL – Outpatient Specialty Clinic
4. Boston, MA – Research Space
5. Charleston, SC – Research Space
6. Daytona Beach, FL – Outpatient Clinic
7. Denver, CO – Chief Business Office Purchased Care
8. Gainesville, FL – Outpatient Clinic
9. Hampton Roads, VA – Outpatient Clinic
10. Mission Bay, CA – Research Space
11. Missoula, MT – Outpatient Clinic
12. Northern Colorado, CO – Outpatient Clinic
13. Ocala, FL – Outpatient Clinic
14. Oxnard, CA – Outpatient Clinic
15. Pike County, GA – Outpatient Clinic
16. Portland, ME – Outpatient Clinic
17. Raleigh, NC – Outpatient Clinic
18. Santa Rosa, CA – Outpatient Clinic
19. Corpus Christi, TX – Outpatient Clinic
20. Jacksonville, FL – Outpatient Clinic
21. Pontiac, MI – Outpatient Clinic
22. Rochester, NY – Outpatient Clinic
23. Tampa – FL – Outpatient Clinic
24. Terre Haute, IN – Outpatient Clinic

Veterans in each of these states deserve the timely and quality health care benefits they have earned through their service. As such, we ask that you work to include authorization for these leases in the December funding bill, or another appropriate vehicle, to be signed into law this year. We thank you for your continuing dedication to our nation’s veterans and look forward to working with you to ensure their timely access to VA health care.

Sincerely,