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Mar 23, 2013 4:23 PM by katc

Landrieu Amendment for Lake Charles, Lafayette VA Clinics Included in Senate Budget

An amendment by U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., for the construction of Veterans Affairs clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles was included in the Senate's FY14 budget, which passed early this morning with Sen. Landrieu's support. The amendment will allow for future funding of these clinics and eliminates one of the budgetary hurdles delaying the construction of the VA clinics.

"Because of a bureaucratic bottleneck at CBO, veterans across the country, including 20,000 in South Louisiana have faced unacceptable delays in these health clinics. After the sacrifices these brave men and women have made for our country, it is unconscionable to allow this to continue. Our veterans deserve quality, convenient health care. This amendment puts us on a path to fixing this problem, and I call on my colleagues, particularly the House and Senate leadership, to work together achieve a resolution," Sen. Landrieu said.

Last month, Sen. Landrieu and Congressman Charles W. Boustany Jr., M.D., R-La., introduced the Keep Our Commitment to Veterans Act, which will authorize the Lafayette clinic to stay open, as well as the proposed clinic in
Lake Charles.

In September 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) changed its characterization of Major Medical Facility leases, requiring the Veterans Administration to pay for a full 20 years of rent upfront for health clinics. While the leases would have normally cost just more than $126 million, they are now scored at almost $1.4 billion. Due to these costs, 15 clinics across the country could not be authorized in fiscal year 2013, including clinics in Lake Charles and Lafayette.

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