Southwest Florida Chapter
Jeff Kuhnreich, CDR, USN/RET
Surfing Capitol Hill in May 2020:
Florida is represented by 3 Members and 1 Senator on the VA Authorization (Policy) and Appropriations (Funding) Committees:
Sen. Rubio (VA App’n)
Rep. Dunn (FL2) (VA Auth)
Rep. Bilirakis (FL12) (VA Auth)
Rep Steube (FL17) (VA Auth)
House passes legislation improving Veteran disability compensation and medical care access
On May 28, 2020 the House of Representatives passed two bills one, originating in the House (HR 6168) that will move to the Senate calendar, and the other, received from the Senate (S3414) which will be forwarded to the President.
HR 6168 the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2020 – sponsored by Rep. Luria from Virginia’s 2nd District, a 20 year, nuclear surface Navy vet, she served on 6 different combat ships and deployed to the 6th, 5th and 7th Fleets.
This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase, as of December 1, 2020, the rates of veterans' disability compensation, plus additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.
The percentage increase in benefits shall be the same as the cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients.
The bill passed the House in a unanimous voice vote (no record of Yeas/Nays) floor vote and the bill now goes to the Senate.
S 3414 the Major Medical Facility Authorization of 2020 – sponsored by Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas. Though not affecting Florida, the bill provided in excess of $2 Billion for 7 construction projects for VA facilities across the United States.
The bill passed the House in a unanimous voice vote (no record of Yeas/Nays) floor vote and the bill now goes to the President for his signature.
***** With regards to the Senate Bill and our region, we will be requesting your input for SWFL facility needs/upgrade requests / personal observations for future consideration by our FL delegation in the coming year. *****
FL Delegation votes
Senator / Member HR. 6168 S. 3414
Rubio Pending Y
Scott Pending y
FL1 Y Y
FL2 Y Y
FL3 Y Y
FL4 Y Y
FL5 Y Y
FL6 Y Y
FL7 Y Y
FL8 Y Y
FL9 Y Y
FL10 Y Y
FL12 Bilirakis Y Y
FL13 Crist Y Y
FL14 Castor Y Y
FL15 Spano Y Y
FL16 Buchanan Y Y
FL17 Steube Y Y
FL18 Mast Y Y
FL19 Rooney Y Y
FL20 Hastings Y Y
FL21Frankel Y Y
FL22 Deutch Y Y
FL23 Wasserman Schultz Y Y
FL24Wilson Y Y
FL25 Diaz-Balart Y Y
FL26 Mucarsel-Powell Y Y
FL27 Shalala Y Y
DEM / REP/ SWFL *PASSED UNAN. VOICE * PASSED UNAN. VOICE
Information regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs
In light of the ongoing 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many veterans have been asking questions about what the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its medical facilities are doing to protect and care for veterans during the outbreak. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is in daily communication with VA leadership and would like to share the following information: Since this situation is evolving rapidly, we encourage veterans and their families to consult VA’s Website for the most current information. Guidance from local VA medical facilities about their current operating status is available on each facility’s website, which can be found through VA’s Facility Locator Tool.
What should veterans do if they think they have COVID-19?
Before visiting local VA medical facilities, community providers, urgent care centers, or emergency departments in their communities, veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms — such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath — are encouraged to call their VA medical facility or call MyVA311 (844-698-2311, press #3 to be connected). Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal. VA clinicians will evaluate veterans’ symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate providers for further evaluation and treatment. This may include referral to state or local health departments for COVID-19 testing.
What about routine appointments and previously scheduled procedures?
VA is encouraging all veterans to call their VA facility before seeking any care — even previously scheduled medical visits, mental health appointments, or surgical procedures. Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet and find out whether they should still come in for their scheduled appointments. VA providers may arrange to convert appointments to Video Visits, where possible and veterans should feel free to request telehealth appointments from their VA providers. Can visitors still access VA medical facilities?
Many VA medical facilities have cancelled public events for the time being, and VA is urging all visitors who do not feel well to postpone their visits to local VA medical facilities. Facilities have also been directed to limit the number of entrances through which visitors can enter. Upon arrival, all patients, visitors, and employees will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure. What about VA nursing homes and spinal cord injury units? On March 10, 2020, VA Announced that its 134 nursing homes (also called VA community living centers) and 24 spinal cord injury and disorder centers would be closed to all outside visitors. All clinical staff
will be screened for COVID-19 daily before entering the nursing home or spinal cord injury units, and staff will work only within those units to limit possible transmission of the virus. Exceptions to the visitor policy will only be made for cases when veterans are in their last stages of life on hospice units or inpatient spinal cord injury units.
How is VA supporting those impacted by intimate partner violence (IPV)?
Crises that disrupt daily life – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – can interrupt access to key services, including resources for those experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP) has Coordinators in VA facilities available for support for those using or experiencing intimate partner violence. For more resources and information about VA’s IPVAP, visit their Website. Visit VA’s Frequently Asked Questions Page for more information on what veterans need to know about seeking care at VA facilities during this time.