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August 02, 2017

Inhofe Praises Extension of Veterans Choice Program

WASHINGTON —U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), praised last night’s Senate passage of the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 which provides $2.1 billion to extend the Veterans Choice program. 

“In Oklahoma, we have seen firsthand the widespread dysfunction that has plagued our VA nation-wide,” Inhofe said. “The Veterans Choice program is a bipartisan effort to ensure our vets have access to quality healthcare, allowing them to skip long travel and wait times at some VA facilities by accessing private care. This legislation makes several VA reforms to address staffing shortages, training and retention issues while ensuring the Veterans Choice program continues to receive funding. I look forward to President Trump enacting this law and working with my colleagues to continue to improve the vital program.” 

Background                                

  • On July 11, Inhofe testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee in support of the S. 1266  Enhancing Veteran Care Act, which would allow VISN directors to contract with outside organization to conduct investigations into their clinics.
  • On July 10, the VA IG released a report following an investigation of the Muskogee VA that was done in conjunction with a third party, the Joint Commission. An investigation into Oklahoma’s VA clinics in conjunction with a third party was promised to Inhofe after he held the VA IG nominations on the Senate floor last year.  
  • On June 23, President Trump signed S. 1094 the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law. Inhofe cosponsored this legislation. This bill contained portions of S. 2554, which Inhofe introduced last Congress.
  • On Feb. 23, 2016, Inhofe announced on the Senate floor that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had committed in writing to conduct investigations of Oklahoma’s VA hospitals in coordination with an outside entity, a condition made by Inhofe prior to allowing confirmation of the VA Inspector General nominee.
  • On Feb. 12, 2016 Inhofe and Lankford introduced S. 2554, the Veterans Affairs Accountability Act, which would give authority to the Secretary of the VA to remove or demote a VA employee based on performance or misconduct.
  • In January 2016, Inhofe requested that the VA IG visit Oklahoma VA facilities with an outside entity. This request was denied.
  • On Dec. 23, 2015, Inhofe contacted VISN 19 Network Director Ralph Gigliotti and requested his personal assistance in ensuring proper care is provided to the five veterans identified in the Dec. 23, 2015, USA Today article. Inhofe continues to work with the VA on care for these veterans to include addressing existing medical issues and any future medical issues.


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