VA closure plan opposed by SD congressional delegation
Medical centers in Hot Springs and Sturgis are recommended for closure
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota’s congressional delegation begins the political fight to save Veterans Administration medical facilities in the state.
Monday, the VA released a report on its plan to restructure medical services, including the closure of medical centers in Hot Springs and Sturgis while building a new hospital in Rapid City.
Tuesday, Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds, and Representative Dusty Johnson, sent a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, voicing their concern about “the adverse impact” of the VA’s recommendations.
“The VA’s recommendations to the AIR Commission should seek to expand and improve access to health care. Instead, the VA has issued proposals that would reduce access to health care and impose serious hardships on rural and tribal veterans. Removing services from the Hot Springs and Fort Meade facilities, and consolidating health care services in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, would substantially reduce high-quality care options for those veterans who have benefited from access to rural VA services in South Dakota,” the letter stated.
The trio also cited that two years ago, then-Secretary Robert Wilkie rescinded a previous plan to close the Hot Springs VA, promising that the facility would remain open and services to veterans increased.
The letter then stated: “For nearly a decade, we fought tooth and nail to defend the Hot Springs VA and the surrounding communities. We stood side-by-side with veterans, health care professionals, and community leaders as we made our case to previous administrations about the significant benefits that these facilities provide to veterans throughout the multi-state area they serve. We can assure you that we will continue that fight to defend them and make our case to the AIR Commission that the VA’s misguided recommendations to close and downsize several VA facilities in South Dakota are a mistake and should not be implemented.”
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