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Oregon House OKs bill to boost care for rural veterans


The Oregon House voted unanimously Wednesday in support of HJM 14, a measure introduced by Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, to help veterans access local health care through existing federal programs such as Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) and Choice.

“Central Oregon has a large veteran community. I’ve heard the first-hand accounts of delayed treatment and bureaucratic mismanagement with the Veterans Administration,” Buehler said.

“This experience has also allowed me to witness the courage, character and humility of our local veterans and their families. They are remarkable,” he said. “Caring for our veterans isn’t a Democrat or a Republican responsibility – it’s a sacred American obligation.”

HJM 14 brings attention to the issue of rural access to health care for veterans and calls on the Department of Veterans Affairs to release information on local choice programs – namely Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) and Choice.

The VA set aside about $9 billion in funding for PC3, Buehler said, but very few veterans or providers are aware of the program.

By releasing the information and bringing attention to this problem, the VA can raise awareness of what is available for veteran service members and ensure the money is spent wisely.

It also urges Congress to do more for veterans who do not currently have access to local health care, either through existing programs or other means.

HJM 14 has bipartisan support, including legislators from Central Oregon and several members from the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness committee.

“Veterans should not have to travel several hours to receive medical treatment, especially, when the opportunity to be seen near home exists,” said Buehler. “HJM 14 brings attention to this problem and shows local veterans that we care.”

Once HJM 14 passes, Rep. Buehler says he plansto hand-deliver the joint resolution in person to officials in Washington D.C.

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