WASHINGTON, August 3 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, introduced legislation Thursday to expand and improve veterans' access to health care by addressing the large number of unfilled positions in the Veterans Health Administration.
There are currently over 45,000 vacancies in the VA health care system, including about 36,000 in frontline care positions. Meanwhile, there are currently 9.3 million veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. In 2018, the VA is projected to see 7 million unique patients, up from 6.9 million in 2017, and that number will continue to rise in the coming years.
"Supporting our veterans is one of our most important commitments as a country. Strengthening the VA health care system has long been one of my priorities in the Senate," Sanders said. "It’s absolutely essential that we provide the VA with the resources it needs to serve these veterans."
The Strengthening Veterans Health Care Act of 2017 would allocate $5 billion to the VA to hire more doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to fill these vacancies and ensure that veterans continue to get the best care in a timely manner.
In 2014, Sanders and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) worked to enact legislation to expand hospitals and clinics run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and to hire more doctors and nurses to provide timely and quality care for veterans, which passed the Senate 93-3.