More action on veterans' needs from Congressman Walz. We received the following press release:
Representatives Walz, Courtney Introduce Legislation to Increase Mileage
Reimbursement Rates for Veterans:
Congressmen say it will make the system fairer for our nation's veterans
(Washington, DC) - Congressmen Tim Walz and Joe Courtney introduced legislation to improve the system the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) uses to compensate veterans for the cost of their travel to and from VA facilities for care. In April, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Walz met with veterans from southern Minnesota, who told them that unfair mileage reimbursement rates were causing economic hardship for our nations veterans.
"Earlier this year, mileage reimbursement increased from 11 cents per mile to 28.5 cents per mile," said Walz. "While a welcome change, that increase hardly matched the increase in gas prices at the pump. Veterans residing in rural areas like my district are hit particularly hard by the cost of commuting long distances to VA facilities and this bill mitigates those costs. Now, more than ever, is it important for us to ensure that it is affordable for our veterans to travel to the VA to receive essential medical care."
"For all they have done for our nation, our veterans deserve the support they need to access the care they have earned," Courtney said. "Because of long distances to drive to medical appointments at VA facilities across the state, high energy costs have made it extremely difficult for many veterans. This permanent fix is critical because we cannot leave open the chance that future Congresses may fail to increase the reimbursement each year - that is not a risk I am willing to take. I am proud to join with my friend and colleague, Tim Walz, in introducing this legislation today."
Currently, veterans are reimbursed for their travel costs at a lower rate than federal employees. Additionally, current law requires the VA Secretary to raise the deductible that veterans must pay every time the mileage reimbursement rate is increased. The Walz-Courtney legislation would eliminate the deductible provision and provide a more generous reimbursement program for our veterans. It would set the mileage reimbursement rate at a level equal to that received by government employees for their official travel; eliminate the deductible veterans must pay; and eliminate income, pension and service-connection restrictions on eligibility, so that more veterans who need VA care would have their travel costs covered.