U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, led his colleagues from South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska in a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald to request an extension of the public comment period in the wake of the VA’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed reconfiguration of the Black Hills Health Care System (BHHCS). The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Enzi (R-Wy.), John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and U.S. Representatives Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy.) and Adrian Smith (R-Neb.).
“The time constraints imposed by the current 60-day comment period may present a significant challenge for veteran stakeholders given that many may be traveling or spending time with family throughout the holiday season,” wrote the Members. “The VA’s public comment meetings also overlap the holiday season, which may further limit stakeholder involvement. For these reasons, we respectfully request that the VA extend the comment period to February 5, 2016.”
“As you know, we continue to have concerns about the impact the VA’s proposal to reconfigure the BHHCS will have on access to care for our region’s rural veterans, veteran mental health services, the assumptions made about a future partnership with the Fall River Hospital, and data used to support this proposal,” wrote the Members. “Unfortunately, there also remains an underlying distrust among veterans and Hot Springs stakeholders that the VA has proceeded with a predetermined decision to vacate the Hot Springs VA hospital and domiciliary.”
Full text of the letter can be found here.