May 28, 2014 11:54 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck
The push for expanded health services to veterans in Acadiana continues in Congress. Members of Congress have been trying to get a new clinic for years, and the latest delay boiled down to money. A change in the Congressional Budget Office now requires the Department of Veteran Affairs to pay 20 years of rent up front for any new health clinics.
Because of those costs, new clinics, like the one in Acadiana, can't get authorization.
However, there is a plan to bypass that payment. The "Keep Our Commitment To Veterans Act," introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu and U.S. Representative Charles Boustany, would give 27 proposed VA clinics, including the ones proposed for Lafayette and Lake Charles, the green-light to move forward..
"We cleared all the hurdles in the House. Our legislation and the work I did in the House opened the doors for this, but the Senate has to pass that legislation, and that's what we're waiting on," said U.S. Representative Charles Boustany.
Senator David Vitter says the wait comes down to politics. He said there is support for the bill, including his own.
"I'm going to keep going to the floor every week we're in session to call up the bill, and to demand action," said U.S. Senator David Vitter.
While the future of a VA clinic with expanded services for Lafayette and Lake Charles remains in limbo, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a provision by Senator Mary Landrieu.
"(It's important)To allow veterans to go to any hospital in this region until the clinics can be built here, and get the kind of immediate care that they need that they deserve in the interim," said U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
It's an issue Senator Landrieu said she'll continue to fight for. As she runs for re-election, it's an issue also being addressed by her opponent, Representative Bill Cassidy.
If we don't have the clinics and they have to drive further, and they have to go to facility which is inadequate, they're going to effectively have care denied," said U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy.