Stabenow, Peters Introduced Bill Authorizing Delayed VA Medical Leases

Thursday, September 22, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters joined 17 of their colleagues in introducing legislation that would authorize leases for 24 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs), including Michigan facilities in Ann Arbor and Pontiac. Under current law, the VA must receive specific legislative authorization to lease medical facilities with average annual rental payments in excess of $1 million, However, since 2012, Congress has not, through a regular process, authorized any VA major medical facility leases, hampering the ability of the VA to provide much-needed health care and services to veterans around the country.

“Our veterans in Michigan deserve the absolute best health care,” said Senator Stabenow. “Our bill would allow the VA to expand much-needed outpatient services in Ann Arbor and Pontiac. No veteran should ever be told they need to wait for quality health care, which is why we need to authorize these leases right away.”

“America’s men and women in uniform make immense sacrifices on behalf of our nation, and we must uphold our promise to stand by them both during and after their military service,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve. “This legislation will help ensure veterans in Michigan and across the country are receiving the health care benefits they have earned through their service in a timely way.”

In May, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters joined 13 of their colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter urging the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to authorize several VA leases, including 18 major medical facilities across 12 states that have been awaiting congressional authorization for over a year, as well as an additional six leases for facilities that must be authorized this year, including the Ann Arbor and Pontiac facilities. The two Michigan facilities will expand services and reduce congestion and wait times for Michigan veterans seeking VA health care.

The proposed Ann Arbor lease will create a new 145,000 square-foot outpatient clinic to provide clinical services in support of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. The new, larger Ann Arbor facility will help alleviate wait times and overburdened services by expanding the current primary care, mental health, and specialty care services and offer new services including women’s health services.

The proposed Pontiac project will lease a new 37,619 square-foot outpatient clinic to replace and expand the current 9,900 square-foot Pontiac Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which is too small to meet the growing number of veterans seeking care at the facility.

There are more than 698,000 veterans currently living in Michigan, and approximately 224,750 Michigan veterans are currently enrolled in the VA health care system.