Latham blasts a 'bureaucratic snafu' for local inequity
Iowa Congressman Tom Latham believes a significant battle has been won in the attempt to establish a Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) for veterans in Storm Lake.
Latham included language in a funding bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee late last week, directing the Veteran's Administration to establish a clinic in the city.
"There is clear evidence that an outpatient clinic is needed in Storm Lake to fill in a VA health care gap in Iowa," said Latham, a senior member of the committee that approved his language. "No one has done more to secure this country's freedom and prosperity than our veterans. For this reason, it is important that we ensure that America's veterans receive the level of benefits promised to them when they signed up to serve our nation."
Latham said the Veterans Administration has shortchanged northwest Iowa.
The report language directs the VA to open the third such CBOC that Latham has worked to establish, since 1999, through his seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Others are in Fort Dodge and Sioux City, and have proven to provided a higher level of health service options for veterans closer to their home, according to Latham. Demand for the service has overwhelmed those facilities.
Storm Lake veterans agree, with several leading the drive to put together a large petition calling for a new clinic here. In some cases, local veterans have been turned away at Fort Dodge and Des Moines facilities due to the demand for veterans care.
To alleviate the overwhelming demand at the clinics, Latham included language in 2001 that would have established the Storm Lake CBOC. The language was included in the VA/HUD Appropriations Bill for 2002, and was signed into law by President Bush.
"However, in what can only be characterized as a bureaucratic snafu the VA disobeyed the report language stating that there was no need for a Storm Lake CBOC," Latham said.
"The VA made a ill-advised decision based on incomplete data. I challenge the bureaucrats to leave their offices in Washington, DC and come to Iowa to see first-hand the overwhelming need for this clinic. The VA has historically underserved northwest and north central Iowa veterans when it comes to the health care services they were promised. This language directs the VA to make correct the inequity," concluded Latham.
The VA/HUD Appropriations bill is now awaiting consideration by the full House, and would also need a presidential signature.