WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a combat veteran, issued the following statement after the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs passed legislation that includes the bipartisan Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act. The VETS Act, led by Senators Ernst and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), seeks to improve health care access – including mental health treatment – for disabled or rural veterans by expanding telehealth services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“I am thrilled that our bipartisan efforts to expand veterans’ access to telehealth services was included in the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017, and approved by committee today on a bipartisan basis,” said Senator Ernst. With over 200,000 veterans across Iowa, it is imperative that we continue looking for ways to create opportunities to increase access to quality and timely care – including mental health treatment – for disabled or rural veterans.

“As the Care for our Veterans Act heads to the Senate floor, I look forward to continuing to review the legislation as it is finalized.”

About the VETS Act:

  • Senators Ernst and Hirono first introduced the VETS Act in 2015, and reintroduced it in the 115th Congress in April of 2017.
  • In August of 2017, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) announced it will expand telehealth services for veterans and provide telemedicine across state lines, mirroring efforts in the VETS Act.
  • The VETS Act seeks to improve health care access – including mental health treatment – for disabled or rural veterans by expanding telehealth services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by allowing VA health officials to practice telemedicine across state lines if they are qualified and practice within the scope of their authorized federal duties.
  • Additionally, the legislation ensures the VA and Congress provide oversight of the VA’s telehealth program by requiring the VA to measure program effectiveness.