Senate passes bill improving veterans’ healthcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate approved legislation Wednesday that includes provisions introduced by Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to improve healthcare for Ohio veterans and support people who care for them. The bill, known as the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Network (MISSION) Act, will now be sent to the President’s desk to become law.

“Our servicemembers and their families sacrifice so much to keep our country safe. We owe all of our veterans – and the families who support them – our gratitude, our respect and the highest-quality healthcare,” Brown said.

The bill passed Wednesday includes several provisions authored by Brown, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, including:

— Expanding caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras. Previously, comprehensive caregiver assistance and benefits were provided only to veterans injured on or after Sept. 11, 2001, leaving family caregivers and veterans injured during World War II, the Korean, Vietnam and 1990-1991 Gulf War ineligible for this critical support.

— Giving specific training to doctors outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system on how to address veterans’ unique medical needs.

— Ensuring safe opioid prescribing practices for doctors and healthcare providers outside the system.

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) also voted to support the VA MISSION Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at providing veterans with access to efficient, timely and quality health care and services in their own communities. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 92-5, and it now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

“I strongly support the innovative reforms in the VA MISSION Act, and I’m pleased the Senate has passed this bipartisan bill and sent it to the president’s desk for his signature,” Portman said. ” This bill puts the needs of veterans first by giving them the option of seeking care when and where it makes the most sense for their needs. In addition, the bill helps improve existing VA health care and services by strengthening opioid prescription guidelines for non-VA providers, removing barriers for VA health care professionals to practice telemedicine, and providing new tools for attracting and retaining VA health care professionals. Our veterans fought to protect our freedoms and ensure our way of life, and we are eternally grateful for their service and sacrifice. We have a responsibility to take care of them, and this bill will make needed changes at the VA to help fulfill that promise.”