COLEMAN ANNOUNCES EXPANDED HEALTH CARE FOR VETS IN METRO-AREA, SOUTHWEST MN
Senator Norm Coleman today announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs will open outpatient clinics in early 2010 in south-central Minnesota and the southwest Metro-area. While the locations of the outpatient clinics are yet to be determined, they will work to significantly reduce veterans' drive time, improve the quality of care, decrease waiting time for follow up appointments, and improve waiting times at parent hospitals. The aim of the new clinics is to make health care services more accessible to Minnesota's veterans.
"Ensuring our veterans have access to quality health care is one my top priorities as a Senator," said Coleman. "Because of Minnesota's size, veterans - particularly those in rural areas - too often lack outpatient facilities close to home to receive the health care they need. These new clinics will relieve the burden of traveling long distances for veterans to get the needed care. I applaud the VA for its continued commitment to our vets and for recognizing the needs of Minnesota."
Senator Coleman has long worked to improve the lives of veterans living in Minnesota. He has supported an 80 percent increase in veterans funding since taking office in 2003 and recently voted for a bill that was passed into law that provides $41 billion for the Veterans Health Administration.
Coleman has also worked to increase the mileage reimbursement rate for veterans who travel by car to VA medical centers. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reimburses veterans for the miles they are forced to travel to get treatment at VA medical centers across the country, and the two Minnesota VA Medical Centers processed more than 80,000 travel claims from veterans last year. Unfortunately, the Department's reimbursement rate of 11 cents per mile had been set in 1977, when the average price of gasoline was about 60 cents per gallon. Last year, Congress passed with Coleman's support legislation appropriating $125 million to increase the reimbursement rate to 28.5 cents per mile.
Coleman recently received an "A" from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) for strongly supporting our veterans and their needs. The IAVA Report Card grades every Senator and Congressman on his or her leadership and voting record on key veterans' issues affecting our nation's heroes that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes such issues as the GI Bill, VA funding and mental health care.