Washington, D.C. – Senator Murray spoke yesterday at a hearing on the topic of the Veterans Affairs administration, and she spoke directly to the secretary of the VA, Secretary McDonough pressing him following concerns with Eastern Washington's clinics and hospitals.
KHQ has reported on concerns that dozens of VA medical centers across more than 20 states are facing the possibility of either closing, or major restructuring, Spokane and Walla Walla being on that list.
“As you know, VA has spent the last few years reducing services in Washington state—I want to be very clear, I will not stand for this. A reduction of in-patient services is just a complete non-starter for me,” Senator Murray said to Secretary McDonough.
The timetable about closure is unclear, but other staff members say they've been told 6 months.
“Almost one in ten Washington residents is a veteran. Regardless of where they choose to live, you know I adamantly believe that the VA has an obligation to reach them with high-quality care,” Senator Murray said, “While the Fiscal Year 2023 budget does include a substantial increase in funding, I’m very concerned that there is a disconnect between the local, VISN, and national levels, VA’s recommendations for the AIR Commission suggested turning Walla Walla VA Medical Center into a CBOC while moving services to Spokane – which would force a lot of our veterans to drive over two hours in very tough conditions.”
Per the recording McDonough indicated there is no plan to cut services at Mann-Grandstaff.
The Senator also spoke on the topic of the Electronic Health Record Modernization program, the Senator made it clear that she was not happy with the way it was working.
“The EHR rollout,…, has been very frustrating, very disruptive, and even dangerous for some patients,” Senator Murray said. “So I am asking that you re-consider the current schedule for the rollout of the new Electronic Health Record. We need to continue to fix the issues that have been raised in Spokane and Walla Walla, and then only return to Washington state for any new deployments after demonstrating the EHR is ready and successful at different facilities.”
Senator Murray issued a joint statement with McMorris Rodgers in March responding to the VA recommendations to the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission to modernize and realign the VA health care system.
This is not the first time the two have joined forces on the topic of eastern Washington veterans recently. They came together to call on Air Force secretary to address housing issues at Fairchild Air Force Base.
NEW NOW: Here is the audio from @PattyMurray's hearing with the VA secretary where she brought up the potential closure of Mann-Grandstaff VA Center in Spokane.— Bradley Warren (@bradmwarren) May 5, 2022
She told the secretary will not stand for a closure or a reduction in services for Eastern Washington veterans. pic.twitter.com/ghO3sUaLh8