House Passes Schilling Veterans Bill

Press Release

Date: June 11, 2014
Location: East Moline, IL

Bobby Schilling's veterans bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now headed for the Senate. The Veterans Access to Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida), was built on Schilling's veterans legislation from the last Congress and passed the House of Representatives 426-0 on Tuesday. The bill Schilling authored and introduced in 2011, the Enhanced Veterans Health Care Experience Act, would allow veterans the ability to use their own doctors in their own hometowns when VA wait lists prevent veterans from getting immediate access to care. Enacting the provisions of the Schilling bill into law would provide a major safety valve by eliminating a great deal of the problems veterans have faced in recent years.

The Veterans Access to Care Act is designed to begin the lengthy process of reforming the Veterans Administration and solving the waitlist crisis that has affected tens of thousands of veterans across the United States, including 40 veterans who died because of being fatally waitlisted at an Arizona VA Hospital.

Bobby Schilling released the following statement:

"Today is a great day for veterans across this great nation, but there is still much work to do.

"I'm thrilled that my friend, Congressman Jeff Miller, was able to get this bill through the House. This is a monumental step for veterans in this country who have been needlessly burdened with waitlists and backlogs from the VA for far too long. One of the key provisions of the Veterans Access to Care Act came straight from my bill I introduced in 2011, the Enhanced Veterans Health Care Experience Act.

"Now veterans have the right to use their own doctors in their own hometowns, rather than wait extended periods of time for the VA when they need care immediately.

"This is only the first step. The Senate must pass this bill and President Obama must sign this into law. And there are still additional reforms we need to pass to improve our veterans access to health care. But this is a great first step, and I'm pleased to see this bill pass the House. Working on this veterans issue was a passion of mine while serving in Congress, and it's great to see our work pay off to help our heroes."

Bobby Schilling recognized the problems in the Veterans Administration three years ago. After the problems his own father had with the Veterans Administration, Schilling analyzed the problem and designed a creative way to help solve it without expanding government bureaucracy. He was ahead of his time in introducing his bill and was very pleased to see it pass the House. Still, there is more work to be done to serve veterans, and Bobby Schilling is seeking to once again represent the people of the 17th Congressional District to put his problem-solving skills back to work for the middle class, the working poor, and especially our veterans in need of quality, accessible health care.

Jon Schweppe, communications director at Bobby Schilling for Congress, said this is another example of Bobby Schilling leading and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline) lagging behind.

"Bobby Schilling took the lead on veterans issues back in 2011 when he introduced his bill that would allow veterans access to their own doctors in their own hometowns. Bobby Schilling called for reform before it was popular and poll-tested. Bobby Schilling called for Secretary Shinseki's resignation immediately--Cheri Bustos waited for polling results and approval from Washington, D.C. There's a clear distinction between these two candidates--Bobby Schilling leads, and Cheri Bustos lags behind. We need someone who will tirelessly advocate for veterans in Washington, and the better choice for that is Bobby Schilling."

The Senate version of the bill, introduced by John McCain (R-Arizona) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), also contains Schilling's language granting veterans access to non-VA facilities.