U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) recently cosponsored the Veterans Transportation Service (VTS) bill, along with Senators Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, to enhance transportation services for veterans to Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care Facilities in rural areas.
"The Veterans Transportation Service program helps to make certain veterans get the care they need," Sen. Moran said. "Veterans who have served our country with duty and honor deserve access to quality health care wherever they choose to live here in the United States."
In 2010, the VTS initiative was established to provide funding for vehicles, mobility managers, and transportation coordinators at local VA facilities. Volunteer transportation services were and continue to be provided by organizations like the Disabled American Veterans (DAV); however, volunteer drivers are often precluded from transporting veterans who are not ambulatory, require portable oxygen, have undergone a procedure involving sedation, or have other clinical issues. Additionally, with an increasing number of transportation-disadvantaged veterans, there are simply not enough volunteers in all regions of the country to serve the level of need.
VTS complements volunteer drivers and eliminates the need for VA facilities to contract with an ambulance service or provide mileage reimbursements for veterans traveling to and from medical appointments. Initial annual savings are estimated at approximately $11 million. Last year, the Veterans Affairs Committee provided a one-year authorization for the program, and the new legislation would provide its long-term authorization.
Currently, there are VA Health Care Facilities in Topeka and Kansas City that offer VTS, but through the new legislation, the program could be expanded across the state.