Rounds joins bipartisan colleagues in criticism of proposed rural V.A. closures

WASHINGTON — South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds is taking on the Department of Veterans Affairs along with bipartisan colleagues in both the House and Senate.

Hot Springs VaRounds, along with Sen. Joe Manchin, writing to President Biden and expressing concerns about the V.A.’s latest report.

The list of recommendations proposed in that A.I.R. Commission report include the possible closure of V.A. Medical Centers in Hot Springs and Fort Meade. The V.A. says consolidation of services to a more centralized location in Rapid City will serve more patients and use funds more efficiently.

Congressional opponents disagree.

“Now the V.A. has what they call their A.I.R. Program in which they’re reducing the number of rural locations, consolidating in their urban locations, promising that they’ll provide the appearance with better services,” Sen. Rounds says.

The letter sent to President Biden criticizes the A.I.R. Commission, whose members they say are not required to have experience with rural healthcare.

South Dakota’s congressional delegation says there will be a fight going forward to ensure veterans access to necessary treatment.

“What we have to do is make it very clear that this is coming from the administration and that it is their intent to reduce the services in rural areas,” Sen. Rounds adds. “There has been no evidence since the MISSION Act passed that any of their services have been better than what it was before; in fact, it’s gotten worse.”

The recommendations are just that, and no immediate action comes as a result of the report.

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