Enrolled HJR 10: Urging the United States Congress to improve health care for veterans.
00Enrolled HJR 10 01 Urging the United States Congress to improve health care for veterans. 02 _______________ 03 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 04 WHEREAS the Veterans Health Administration in the United States Department of 05 Veterans Affairs, the gateway to veterans' health care, is backlogged because of inadequate 06 resources; and 07 WHEREAS the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform is composed of 08 the American Legion, AMVETS, Blinded Veterans Association, Disabled American 09 Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of 10 America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America; and 11 WHEREAS the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform has found the 12 current funding mechanism for veterans' health care to be unreliable and vulnerable to 13 political posturing, cost cutting, and budget gimmickry; and 14 WHEREAS the number of veterans increases every day as members of the military 15 return from overseas and re-enter civilian life; and 16 WHEREAS the medical needs of returning veterans, especially those suffering from 17 traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and other combat-related
01 psychological injuries, must be met; and 02 WHEREAS the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System facility in Anchorage, the 03 Veterans Affairs Community-based Outpatient Clinics at Fort Wainwright and in Kenai, and 04 the soon to open facilities in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Juneau, and Homer provide 05 outpatient services for Alaska's veterans; and 06 WHEREAS the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009, 07 introduced in the 111th Congress, allows for a two-fiscal-year budget authority for veterans' 08 health care programs and requires the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a 09 study on the adequacy and accuracy of baseline model projections for veterans' health care 10 expenditures of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; and 11 WHEREAS the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform endorses the 12 Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009; and 13 WHEREAS veterans of the United States-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are 14 entitled to five years of health care without charge from the United States Department of 15 Veterans Affairs regardless of the priority group to which they are assigned, but are 16 reimbursed for the cost of traveling to access that care only if they meet the eligibility criteria 17 in the travel regulations of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; and 18 WHEREAS United States Senator Lisa Murkowski conducted a hearing under the 19 auspices of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in November 2007 that established that 20 veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq who live in rural Alaska have limited or no 21 access to their earned United States Department of Veterans Affairs health benefits and that 22 the Alaska Native health system and community health centers, which are severely 23 underfunded, are providing care to these veterans without reimbursement from the United 24 States Department of Veterans Affairs at the expense of the Native health system's and 25 community health centers' primary missions; and 26 WHEREAS, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs "CARES Decision" states, "Medical 27 care is a key component of the benefits and services enacted by Congress in recognition of the 28 service, and sometimes the sacrifice, of the men and women whose military service preserved 29 and protected America's freedoms."; and 30 WHEREAS in written testimony to the United States House Committee on Veterans 31 Affairs, Andy Behrman, Rural Health Policy chair of the National Rural Health Association,
01 asserted that "The disproportionate number of rural Americans serving in the military has 02 created a disproportionate need for veteran's care in rural areas and yet rural areas are less 03 likely to have VA services available to them," that "time and distance prevent many rural 04 veterans from getting their healthcare benefits through a VHA facility," and that other 05 approaches are "readily available in the VA system and in the rural health landscape that 06 could improve this situation"; and 07 WHEREAS the written testimony of the National Rural Health Association also 08 stresses the problem that "Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (CHCs) serve 09 millions of rural Americans, but most veterans cannot use their VA health benefits to receive 10 care at these CHCs" because a "national policy advocating VHA-CHC collaboration has not 11 emerged in an effective way"; and 12 WHEREAS the written testimony of the National Rural Health Association 13 emphasizes that a "limited number of collaborations between the VHA and CHCs already 14 exist and have proven to be prudent and cost-effective solutions to serving eligible veterans in 15 remote areas" and that this "model of collaboration between VHA and CHCs might do well in 16 other rural states and with other rural providers and systems of care and should be 17 implemented further"; and 18 WHEREAS a report written by David R. Selig, Chief Executive Officer of the 19 Community Care Network of Virginia, provides a concrete proposal of collaboration between 20 community health centers and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs by 21 suggesting that community health centers "serve as a vehicle for increasing access to primary 22 care for Veterans" and presents a model where community health centers "function as a 23 Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) as defined by the Department of Veterans 24 Affairs"; and 25 WHEREAS the existing community health centers and tribal health organizations 26 infrastructure in Alaska should be used to its full potential to provide access to cost-effective, 27 quality care for Alaska veterans whether through a Community Based Outpatient Clinic 28 arrangement, a network arrangement, or individual arrangements with individual community 29 health centers or tribal clinics; and 30 WHEREAS community health centers and tribal health organizations provide 31 comprehensive primary care and mental health and substance abuse services to medically
01 underserved areas and populations, including veterans who do not reside near a VA health 02 care facility; 03 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States 04 Congress to provide adequate funding and resources to enable the Veterans Health 05 Administration to properly care for the health care needs of all veterans by adopting a method 06 similar to that proposed in the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 07 2009; and be it 08 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States 09 Congress to provide the United States Department of Veterans Affairs with sufficient, timely, 10 and predictable funding for veterans' health care programs; and be it 11 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States 12 Congress to ensure that health care services follow veterans to where they live and work so 13 that veterans are not obligated to search for the veterans' services to which they are entitled; 14 and be it 15 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States 16 Congress to increase funding for research into traumatic brain injuries; and be it 17 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States 18 Congress to encourage the Veterans Health Administration to improve its electronic claims 19 filing process and its ability to use information contained in military records; and be it 20 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature supports federal and state 21 funding and other efforts to ensure that veterans across the state have access to quality health 22 care at community health centers, community mental health centers, substance abuse 23 treatment centers, tribal health organizations, and other appropriate local providers in the 24 outlying areas where the United States Veterans Administration does not have clinics. 25 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Barack Obama, President of 26 the United States; the Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice-President of the United States and 27 President of the U.S. Senate; the Honorable Robert C. Byrd, President Pro Tempore of the 28 U.S. Senate; the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; the 29 Honorable Daniel Akaka, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs; the 30 Honorable Bob Filner, Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs; the 31 Honorable Eric K. Shinseki, United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs; the Honorable
01 Michael B. Donley, United States Secretary of the Air Force; the Honorable Pete Geren, 02 United States Secretary of the Army; and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski and the Honorable 03 Mark Begich, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of 04 the Alaska delegation in Congress.