Murkowski Praises Groundbreaking Indian Health Service/VA Agreement

Alaska Native Veterans Get Coverage at I.H.S. Centers, Deal Could Start Trend

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For years a champion of “Care Closer to Home” for Alaska’s veteran population statewide, Senator Lisa Murkowski lauded the Department of Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service agreement signed this morning where the VA will reimburse tribal health providers nationwide for direct health care services provided by clinics to American Indian and Alaska Native Vets.  Rural Alaska Native veterans currently travel hundreds of miles away to the VA health clinics in Anchorage – which can cost hundreds of dollars in airfare and time away from home for medical care.

“If you’ve worn our uniform and served our nation, you’ve made a commitment to our defense and protection – in return, we must honor the commitments we have made to our Veterans,” said Murkowski.  “Common sense, efficient agreements like this are exactly the reason I recommended that President Obama keep VA Secretary General Eric Shinseki on the job for his second term, and I hope other cabinet members follow his lead in finding cost-saving efficiencies to deliver service to those who have earned them.”

(Senator Murkowski discusses “Care Closer to Home” with VA Secretary Shinseki, 3/15/12 – CLICK to watch)

Senator Murkowski has been fighting for years to improve care for rural Alaska Native Veterans, at nearby locations instead of flights to cities or as far as the Lower 48.  She has repeatedly urged General Shinseki to improve access to health care for rural Alaska’s veterans.