Murkowski Votes for VA Reform Bill, Calls it a “First Step”

Senator: Alaska Still Faces Many of the Same Challenges Seen Nationwide

Senator Lisa Murkowski today cast her vote in favor of the Veterans Access to Care Act, saying: 

The Veterans Administration’s mission is a promise to the men and women who put their lives on the line around the world for our defense, and it’s a simple promise that we will look after them in their times of medical need.  Red tape and systemic failures cannot stand between our veterans and the care they have earned. 

I am voting for this bill because it represents a critical beginning to reforming the VA, but it is only a first step. No amendments were considered that would help this bill better suit Alaska’s needs, which remain unique in the nationwide VA system.  I am also concerned that the solutions contained in the bill’s fine print could create new gaps in health care delivery or more difficult obstacles to care.  It is encouraging, though, that the bill improves the accountability within the system – and that if a caregiver or employee falls short of doing their job adequately, they can be removed from their position with greater expediency.

In Alaska, we continue to fall short of that promise of care, be it the staffing shortage in Wasilla or the bureaucracy in Anchorage.  When I sat down with a roomful of veterans earlier this month who shared their problems with the VA, their belief in the VA’s mission remained resolute.  And it is that core mission we must always keep in the front of our minds moving forward.