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Congresswoman Herrera Beutler moves legislation to help rural veterans

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler pushed forward bill language this week that would look for solutions to a problem faced by veterans living in rural areas: access to health care.

The provision, which recently passed out of the House Appropriations Committee, requests a full review and report from the U.S. Office of the Inspector General on mobile medical units tasked with serving rural veterans. Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, said in a statement that rural veterans in Southwest Washington have trouble accessing Veteran Affairs medical facilities, and the mobile units that are supposed to address that problem aren’t fully meeting that need.

“Mobile medical units could be an incredible resource for our rural veterans, but only if they’re being used — and right now, they’re not,” Herrera Beutler said in the statement. “We owe it to the taxpayers who funded these units, and to our veterans who served and sacrificed for our country, to start utilizing these mobile medical units and (bring) health care to our rural communities.”

Her provision is part of a spending bill that appropriates money for military construction and veterans affairs for the 2014 fiscal year. That bill still requires a vote of the full House and Senate.

According to Herrera Beutler’s office, more than 40 percent of U.S. veterans live in rural areas, and some drive 50 miles or more to receive medical care. There are eight mobile medical units located across the country.

Stevie Mathieu

Stevie Mathieu

Stevie Mathieu is a political writer at The Columbian. Contact her at 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics.

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