WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing examining the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Telehealth programs. Ranking Member U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) delivered the following opening statement:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome to this subcommittee. Good afternoon and thank you to our witnesses for coming today to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Telehealth programs.
For years this committee has supported expanding and enhancing VA’s telehealth efforts, particularly for rural and highly rural veterans. VA was already experienced in providing telehealth services when the pandemic hit, and the dramatic expansion of services offered during COVID should be commended. It isn’t easy to institute this type of change in any large organization, and the speed with which VA did so is remarkable.
In January 2020 VA provided just over 41,000 patient visits using video telehealth straight to their home. By April that number increased to more than 393,000, and by January of 2021 the number was 798,000. From January to January this represents a 1,831 percent increase in the number of telehealth visits. Just last month VA in-home telehealth visits totaled more than 965,000, so this growth trend is continuing.
Between emergency supplemental and FY 21 base funding, Congress has provided VA with roughly $5 billion to enhance telehealth services. Clearly this has been a successful effort to date, but as this committee looks toward the FY 22 budget and beyond we will want to know more about how VA plans to harness this momentum and broaden access to these services. Behind the enormous growth we’ve seen over the last year are some statistics that show there are still challenges ahead that need to be addressed. In a non-pandemic environment telehealth is a valuable tool to enhance access to health care for veterans in rural, highly rural and underserved areas. When we look at the utilization numbers over the last year, though, we see that much of the growth has been realized in more urban and populous areas. I look forward to hearing more about what VA is doing to address this and what barriers our rural veterans still face to access telehealth services.
Thank you to our witnesses and thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mar 25 2021
Legislation Supports Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange During Service in Thailand
Mar 17 2021
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) called on the Senate to advance his bipartisan legislation to ensure veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War-era get the benefits they’ve earned to help address health care needs developed as a result of Agent Orange exposure.
Boozman recognized the efforts of Mena, Arkansas veteran Bill Rhodes who developed illnesses linked to herbicide exposure and has served as the inspiration for this legislation. Rhodes served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was stationed in Thailand in 1973. His benefits claim was denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Boozman, At First Official Hearing as Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member, Delivers Opening Statement
Mar 11 2021
Nov 24 2020
COVID-19 has exposed a number of issues that policymakers are recognizing can no longer wait to be addressed—combating hunger is chief among them. We’ve seen how schools had to quickly adapt to continue providing meals while students were learning virtually. U.S. Senator John Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee recently spent some time with school administrators and the dedicated individuals who make healthy school lunches across Arkansas to thank them for their efforts in the fight against hunger. We are grateful for their commitment to ensure that no child goes hungry during these challenging times.
May 25 2020
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recorded this message in honor of the men and women who died while wearing our nation's uniform