SPOKANE, Wash. -- Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers paid a visit to the Spokane VA to talk about improvements in care for local veterans on Friday.
The Congresswoman took questions from some veterans. They asked about the wellness program and why it has taken so long to recognize Agent Orange as such a problem. Many vets have also contacted KREM 2 complaining about doctor shortages at the Spokane VA. She said veterans should already be seeing results from her plan to improve the VA in Spokane.
“Staff is energized, the doctors that we’re recruiting to come here, you’re seeing a commitment to the 24/7 urgent care,” McMorris Rodgers said.
She said they have also worked to repair a roof at the Spokane facility that had been leaking for five years. They were able to identify the funding and get the roof fixed by the end of the year. She said that there is still work to be done.
“I think the Choice Program for our veterans still needs to be looked at and made sure that it really is easy for the veterans to access care through the Choice Program. It’s one, especially in the rural areas because if you’re a veteran in Colville or Kettle Falls or Republic, it’s a long way to the Spokane VA,” she said.
Another problem that has plagued the Spokane VA is the lack of specialists available. McMorris Rodgers is hopeful that the medical schools in Spokane will help with the shortage.
“My legislation on the teaching health center is so important to training our OBGYNs, our primary care, our psychiatric, that’s going to help met the needs here. I would like to see them being able to go to providers here in Spokane rather than being forced to travel to Boise or Seattle or Portland,” she said.
The Congresswoman also took time to address a series of stories KREM did on her back in 2016 about staggering price increases in prescription drugs. KREM 2 pointed out that the Political Action Committees for her re-election campaigns have accepted thousands and thousands of dollars from many of those same drug companies that are jacking up your prices.
“I had the chance yesterday to talk to President Donald Trump about the cost of prescription drugs and I shared with him that I have some ideas and he said, 'Let’s talk further, lets bring some people in and I’d like to hear more,'” McMorris Rodgers said. “I think we must have more transparency as a cost and accountability among our pharmacy benefit managers. The large increases in cost are not predictable, retroactive that makes it really difficult to ensure the patients have access to low cost drugs.”
Many of the veterans who talked to her in person Friday thanked her for hearing their concerns and criticisms. They are hopeful many of these problems will show significant improvement. They just hope it comes soon enough for those who depend on the VA for the care they need.