Sens. Hutchison, Cornyn, And Congressmen Express Strong Support For Big Spring VA Medical Center

In: All News   Posted 08/28/2003

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, in a letter Thursday urged the CARES Commission to support the Big Spring VA Medical Center. The two Texas Senators were joined by U.S. Reps. Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), Charlie Stenholm (TX-17) and Henry Bonilla (TX-23) in signing the letter to Everett Alvarez, Jr., Chairman of the CARES Commission, which will make a recommendation to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, about the future of the Big Spring VA Medical Center."Our veterans have served our nation faithfully, and I’m committed to ensuring that they continue to receive the care and treatment they need and deserve from the Big Spring VA Medical Center,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I hope the Department of Veterans Affairs will change the recommended proposal so that it does not have a negative impact on our veterans.”"It is critical for the VA to understand the value the Big Spring hospital has to the community and thousands of veterans in West Texas. Losing this facility will force veterans to travel great distances for health care or even go untreated. We owe it to the men and women who served our country to provide access to quality healthcare, and I will work to make sure we do just that,” Sen. Hutchison said."We are standing together as a delegation to protect health care access for West Texas veterans. After visiting with the hospital’s management and community leadership, I am even more convinced that we must do all we can to support the continued operation of the Big Spring VA facility,” Rep. Neugebauer said.- See below for the letter sent to the CARES Commission -- August 28, 2003 The Honorable Everett Alvarez, Jr. CARES Commission Chairman 810 Vermont Avenue, NW (00CARES) Washington, DC 20420 Dear Mr. Chairman: As you continue to assess and revise the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) draft Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) plan, we would like to express our deep concern over proposed changes at the Big Spring VA Medical Center that would adversely affect West Texas veterans. As you know, the current proposal calls for immediately discontinuing surgical services at Big Spring and studying terminating all health care services at the facility. We believe that both ideas are short-sighted and contrary to the VA’s mission to provide important health care services to veterans in all areas of the country. Approximately 72,000 veterans are currently served by the West Texas VA Center, centrally located in Big Spring and serving 47 counties. The patient load and number of medical visits in Big Spring has steadily risen over the past few years, and a broad range of specialty health care, surgical services, and long term care are desperately needed to address the varied medical concerns of the veteran community in West Texas. The Big Spring campus is particularly valuable for its central location among the major population centers in the region. Actions to permanently discontinue surgical health care services could require elderly or disabled veterans to travel 222 miles to Amarillo or 430 miles to Albuquerque for important surgical procedures. To thousands of veterans in rural, medically- underserved areas, the closure would result in not just an inconvenience or need to delay their health care decisions, but could mean the complete elimination of their best health care options. We are deeply concerned over the repercussions the closure would have on the thousands of veterans who depend on these vital services. We are committed to working with you to ensure that the brave men and women who risked their lives to defend our freedom continue to receive the quality health care they earned through their service. We respectfully request that you give full consideration to our views, and the vital contributions that the Big Spring VA Medical Center makes to West Texas veterans as you make your final recommendations to Secretary Principi. Sincerely, KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON JOHN CORNYN United State Senator United States SenatorCHARLIE STENHOLM HENRY BONILLA RANDY NEUGEBAUER United States Representative United States Representative United States Representative