Bobby Schilling's veterans bill has been signed into law by President Obama.
Schilling's bill, which allows veterans the ability to use their own doctors in their own hometowns when VA waitlists prevent veterans from getting immediate access to care, did not become law overnight. Introduced in 2011 as the Enhanced Veterans Health Care Experience Act, Schilling worked throughout his term to pass the bill through committee, but he faced significant partisan opposition to reforming the Veterans Administration.
However, once the media firestorm surrounding the VA scandal took place, Congress got to work. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida) picked up Schilling's bill, made a few tweaks, and introduced the Veterans Access to Care Act. Miller continued Schilling's critical work, pushed the bill through committee, and passed it through the House of Representatives unanimously.
The Senate passed a similar version of the bill 93-3 and proceeded to conference with the House to draft a compromise bill. The new compromise veterans legislation passed both chambers and was signed into law by President Obama last Thursday.
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.
"This bill--now law--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 in the veterans bill 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.
"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 signed into law. 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 was a leader on this important issue and 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 signed into law. 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.