Amid the unfolding mess surrounding the care of veterans, Congress took a step to ease pressure on the system. 

The Veterans Access to Care Act passed Tuesday allows veterans to receive medical care at non-VA facilities, if they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility or if they are unable to get an appointment at a VA facility within a reasonable period of time.

This arrangement will be available for two years under the bill, with the premise being that the VA would concentrate more fully on fixing its problems.  Congresswoman Kristi Noem co-sponsored the legislation and is pleased that care will be delivered in a more timely fashion.  “Ensuring veterans get access to the care they need when they need it is a top priority for me.”

The possibility of extending the time frame beyond two years could also be an option if the program proves successful.  However, Noem is wary of cost.  “The taxpayers are still paying for the VA system and then they would be paying those reimbursable costs.  We want to make sure we are downsizing the VA if that’s going to happen.”

Next up for the legislation is a trip to the Senate, but Noem is not confident that the Upper Chamber will add it to their schedule.