Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  New legislation introduced by Sen. John Thune will improve veterans’ health care, veterans leaders said today.

“Senator Thune is on the right track. America's service members – past, present, and future – deserve better,” said The American Legion's National Commander Thomas P. Cadmus.

Thune’s new legislation proposes mandatory funding increases for the Veterans Health Administration and provides new benefits for veterans who live in rural America, including a new pilot program for improved medical access in rural areas and better reimbursement for travel expenses related to VA medical care.

“For years now, we have watched a broken appropriations process fail to adequately fund VA medical care,” Cadmus said. “Senator Thune's mandatory funding approach would bring fiscal stability to a national resource. Meeting the health care needs of America's veterans, especially those with service-connected medical conditions, is the ongoing cost of war -- a national obligation.”

Senator Thune has been studying the challenges facing veterans’ health care over the past several months through his position on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and testimony from various veterans groups. Many existing bills on veterans’ health care, which some have asked Thune to support, are narrower in scope and address only one part of the problem. Thune’s legislation, which was developed over an extended period of time, takes a more comprehensive approach to the issue. His bill is designed to both increase funding and improve quality access to veterans’ health care, including care provided to rural veterans. Thune’s legislation also creates a Medicare-subvention program, allowing Medicare to reimburse VA for care provided to Medicare-eligible vets.

“Over half of VA's patient population is Medicare-eligible, yet VA cannot collect one cent from Medicare for the treatment of nonservice-connected medical conditions,” Cadmus said. “It is time to stop the practice of using VA dollars to subsidize Medicare. Senator Thune understands that Medicare-eligible veterans are choosing VA as their primary health care provider. His bill will allow these veterans to spend their Medicare health care dollars where they receive quality health care services and treatment.”

Gene Murphy, a Disabled American Veterans representative who met with Senator Thune this week, also told the Argus Leader he supported Thune’s mandatory funding legislation.

Thune said his new legislation would protect and improve veterans’ health care.

“This legislation guarantees that we will not forget our veterans,” Thune said. “America’s veterans have given so much to our nation – this legislation ensures that America gives back. By making veterans health care funding increases mandatory, we are making an important commitment to our veterans.”