Washington, DC – Yesterday, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter reintroduced the Veterans Health Equity Act, to increase veterans’ access to health care in New Hampshire. This legislation requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that every state has a full-service veterans hospital or that similar services are made available through contracts with hospitals in the state. New Hampshire is currently the only state in the nation that does not have a full-service veterans hospital or equivalent access. Although there have been many improvements since Congresswoman Shea-Porter introduced this bill in 2008—expanded mental health facilities at the VAMC Manchester, a fully staffed full-time Vets Center in Conway, and a partnership with Concord Hospital to expand access to in-state medical—further improvements are needed to expand access to in-state medical care for New Hampshire’s veterans. This is a matter of fairness.
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said, “I look forward to working with veterans and veteran service organizations to push for expanded health care and services. Thanking veterans for their service means honoring our commitments to them.”
· In the 110th Congress, Congresswoman Shea-Porter sent letters to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, James Peake, and met with him to discuss the need for full-service health care in New Hampshire.
· Congresswoman Shea-Porter introduced the Veterans Health Equity Act of 2008 (H.R. 6629) on July 29, 2008, to provide either a full-service veteran’s hospital or access to comparable services in-state for New Hampshire veterans.
· On September 9, 2008, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs reviewed Shea-Porter’s legislation, and she testified before the committee about the need to ensure in-state access to health care for our veterans.
· At the beginning of the 111th Congress, Congresswoman Shea-Porter reintroduced her legislation, the Veterans Health Equity Act of 2009 (H.R. 190), on January 9, 2009, to require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to restore the VA Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire to a full-service VA hospital or provide our veterans with comparable in-state care through local health care providers. Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced the companion bill in the Senate on January 14, 2009.
· In July of 2009, the VA announced that it would expand its community partnership with Concord Hospital, meaning that New Hampshire veterans have in-state access to acute inpatient hospital care from the VA. The VA has also upgraded mental health facilities at the VAMC Manchester.
· In 2010, the Conway Community Based Outpatient Clinic opened, operating five days a week, fully staffed by VA medical personnel.