GREGG, SHAHEEN URGE VA TO CONTINUE LOCAL HEALTH CARE SERVICES FOR LITTLETON VETERANS
(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senators Judd Gregg and Jeanne Shaheen have urged the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Acting Under Secretary for Health Care to use all resources and authority available to provide uninterrupted health care services for Littleton area veterans whose local VA health clinic is scheduled to close today. Over 2,800 area veterans currently receive their primary care at the Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Littleton and will lose local access to health care services for months due to a contract issue that will force Littleton veterans to travel hours for health care services until a new facility is arranged in September. The Senators joined with other legislators from New Hampshire and Vermont in urging the VA to find an immediate interim solution for these veterans.
"We urge you to explore any and all options available to provide as many appointments as possible in Littleton," wrote the legislators. "Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care, and that care should be provided in a manner that is as convenient as possible for the veterans. We urge you to resolve this situation as soon as possible so that our veterans can regain these important local health services."
The Littleton Clinic is scheduled to close today until a permanent facility is found in September. In the interim, the only options offered to veterans are appointments at the VA facility in White River Junction, Vermont, more than a three hour roundtrip.
The full text of the letter follows:
June 29, 2009
Mr. Gerald M. Cross
Acting Under Secretary for Health Care
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Room 800
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Acting Under Secretary Cross:
We are writing out of deep concern for the 2,800-plus veterans in New Hampshire and Vermont who currently receive their primary care at the Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Littleton, New Hampshire. Recently, the White River Junction VA Medical Center (WRJ VAMC) informed us that the Littleton CBOC will close on June 30th until a new facility can be arranged in early September. We find this situation unacceptable, and we urge you to use any and all resources and authority available to you to provide continuous care to all veterans during this transition.
Over 600 veterans who have appointments at the Littleton CBOC in the coming months will lose their access to local VA care because WRJ VAMC was not able to renew its contract with its current vendor. We do not believe that Littleton veterans deserve to lose local care due to a process that was completely out of their control. WRJ VAMC should have had a contingency plan in place to provide seamless care in the event that a new contract could not be arranged. Instead, these veterans have been offered appointments at the WRJ VAMC, which can be over a three hour roundtrip drive. In effect, Littleton area veterans have had their community-based care taken away.
We urge you to explore any and all options available to provide as many appointments as possible in Littleton. Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care, and that care should be provided in a manner that is as convenient as possible for the veterans. We urge you to resolve this situation as soon as possible so that our veterans can regain these important local health services.
We look forward to working with you, Veterans Integrated Service Network 1, and WRJ VAMC to make sure all veterans who use the Littleton CBOC see no interruption in their care and suffer no unnecessary financial hardship due to this administrative error.
U.S. Senator Judd Gregg
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Bernard Sanders
Representative Paul Hodes
Representative Peter Welch