An estimated 17-thousand Iowa military veterans get their medical care at the Vets Hospital in Omaha. It’s the nearest primary-care center but for many it’s still a long trip. Nebraska Congressman Tom Osborne agrees, and he’s the sponsor of the “Rural Veterans Access to Care Act” that would have the Veterans Administration pay for care performed at local hospitals.Osborne says some things like a pacemaker have to be checked four times a year, and he calls it “unreasonable” to have to drive 200 miles to the hospital to have that done. Osborne says there are an estimated 360-thousand vets getting their primary care in Omaha, even though he says nine out of ten of them live far from the care center. He says diabetes, asthma, and heart conditions are much more convenient to get checked at a local hospital than having to drive as far as some do. About five percent of V-A funds, or one billion dollars, would be set aside for hospitals and clinics that provide veterans with health care closer to where they live. A month ago, a veterans group from Shenandoah went to Omaha for a public hearing on providing care closer to home for vets in rural Iowa and Nebraska.
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