BACON VOTES TO PROTECT, NOT STRANGLE VETERANS HEALTH CARE
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) released the following statement after voting against H.R. 3967, the Honoring our PACT Act:
“Improving the way the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) serves toxic-exposed veterans should be a common goal shared by every Member of Congress, not just a partisan subset of congress. We need meaningful collaboration on bills of this level of importance and impact, not political games. Without this, any bill will fail, and our toxic-exposed veterans deserve better.
“I have serious concerns about the VA’s ability to implement the PACT Act without negatively impacting veterans already receiving care or waiting for adjudication of pending claims. It is estimated that the PACT Act will cause an unprecedented backlog of over 1.5 million disability claims leading to longer wait times for veterans, while putting a strain on veteran benefits, resources, and personnel. All veterans will be forced to wait months or years for a final decision on their disability claims or appeals.
“After seeing a viable solution to this issue pass the Senate with bipartisan and veteran support, I was disappointed that Speaker Pelosi did not support and advance the equivalent bill in the House, HR 6659 – Healthcare for Burn Pit Veterans Act. H.R. 6659 reflects the provisions of the Senate bill and had support from both sides of the aisle. Instead, Pelosi chose to create and vote on The PACT Act - a vague, partisan, and inadequate bill. Our veterans deserve better that what was offered in the House. I support HR 6659 as the right alternative to the PACT Act and the right first step in addressing this vitally important issue for veterans. In addition, as a member of the For Country Caucus, comprised completely of veterans, I would have appreciated a chance to help craft and evaluate the PACT Act, which is an inadequate bill.”
The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, introduced by Ranking Member Mike Bost (IL-12) and cosponsored by Rep. Bacon, extends the eligibility period for VA hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for combat veterans who served after September 11, 2001, and were exposed to toxic substances, radiation, or other conditions, including those who did not enroll to receive VA care during the eligibility period. In addition, the VA must incorporate into its existing health care screening an assessment to help determine potential exposures to toxic substances during military service. H.R. 6659 passed in the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Rep. Bacon, a 30-year retired Air Force Brigadier General, knows the importance of advocating for veterans and their healthcare and has cosponsored the following legislative items: