Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  The U.S. Senate last night passed a provision authored by Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) with the support of Senator John Thune (R-SD) that would establish an Office of Rural Health Care within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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. Despite these facts, the VA does not currently have a high-level office responsible for coordinating care to this vital constituency.

"Access to quality health care is a growing concern for rural Americans across the country-especially for many rural veterans who have to travel long distances to receive medical attention at designated VA facilities," Thune said. "The VA does the important work of serving the health care needs of millions of veterans across the country, but unfortunately our rural veterans are often unintentionally overlooked. I'm pleased to see the Senate passed a provision to create a first-ever Office of Rural Health Care within the VA to ensure America's rural veterans are receiving equal access to quality, reliable health care.

"Our veterans have made great sacrifices for the safety and well-being of every American; in turn, they deserve nothing but the best in care and benefits," said Thune.

Specifically, the Office of Rural Health would 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.

The bill must now be considered by the House of Representatives.