Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  A provision authored by Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Senator John Thune (R-SD) that would establish an Office of Rural Health Care within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was approved by Congress. The provision is part of S. 3421 which authorizes major medical facility projects and major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Currently, more than six million of America's veterans live in rural communities. Because of the distance and other difficulties associated with obtaining care, many rural veterans put off preventive as well as necessary treatment. As a result, veterans living in rural areas are in poorer health and pay more for health care than veterans living in urban areas. This provision will create a high-level office responsible for coordinating care to this vital constituency. The bill passed the House of Representatives today and was then approved by unanimous consent by the Senate who passed the provision earlier this year.

"This provision will improve service to our rural veterans and give a voice to those issues unique to rural areas and states faced by veterans of all ages," said Thune. “I am proud to have worked with Senator Salazar to make this legislation a reality as we continue to work in this country to care for those that have sacrificed much to serve our country and protect our freedoms."

Specifically, the Office of Rural Health will be charged with conducting, promoting and disseminating research into issues affecting rural veterans; and developing and refining policies and programs to improve care and services for rural veterans. The efforts of the Office of Rural Health will help to reduce the wide disparities between rural and non-rural veterans.

S. 3421 will now be sent to President Bush for his signature.