(WASHINGTON, DC) – Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in voting to pass two amendments that would redirect funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission that is recommending the closure or consolidation of VA hospitals across the country, including several sites in New York City.
The first amendment, which Malliotakis is a cosponsor of, transfers $5 million in funds to the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans program from the AIR Commission. The second amendment prevents the VA from transferring funds from the Medical Facilities and General Administration accounts to the AIR Commission.
“Providing our veterans with the healthcare they’ve earned and deserve is not a partisan issue,” Malliotakis said. “I’ve been working diligently with veterans’ organizations, along with my House and Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stop these proposed closures and protect the services so many veterans in our community rely on. The passage of today’s amendments is another step in the right direction to protect our VA hospitals, however, we will not stop fighting until President Biden and his VA commit to ending the work of the AIR Commission altogether. Anything less is unacceptable and puts out veterans at risk.”
Last month, a bipartisan group of Senators committed to blocking the AIR Commission from proceeding, however, Biden’s VA promised to continue the work of the AIR Commission.
In March, Malliotakis led two rallies with local veterans and elected officials outside the Staten Island and Brooklyn VA clinics to protest the closures. Under the VA’s proposal, the Manhattan and Brooklyn VA Medical Centers would close entirely, contracting out inpatient and outpatient services to private medical providers as part of a new “strategic collaboration.” While veteran mental-health services would be expanded on Staten Island, the clinic would merge with a VA medical campus in New Jersey. This means veterans who are patients at the Staten Island clinic would be forced to travel upwards of two hours round trip and face a burdensome $16 toll to receive specialized treatment.
As of 2019, there were 138,000 veterans living in the New York City metropolitan area according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with 75 percent being senior citizens. The Brooklyn VA Medical Center and Manhattan VA Medical Center service roughly 1,000 veterans every day (M-F) for outpatient appointments.
Banner Image: Abandoned VA hospital. Image Credit – KublaCo