March 18, 2021

Manchin Discusses Telehealth Accessibility During Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing

Video of Senator Manchin during the Joint Hearing of the House of Representatives and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees can be found here.

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC), questioned witnesses about the accessibility of telehealth appointments at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities across the nation. Senator Manchin questioned how the VA will accommodate Veterans in West Virginia without broadband access for telehealth appointments and for the VA’s new online travel reimbursement process.

Senator Manchin said in part, “Thank you Chairman Takano, Commander Roesch and all our Veterans for everything you do, because West Virginia as you know is a highly populated Veteran state. I like to say that we are one of the most patriotic states in the nation but we really appreciate the services that you all give…As you know the VA is making concerted efforts to expand telehealth initiatives and options. On one hand, I’m encouraged to see the VA provide more options for appointments, especially for Veterans in West Virginia who have to travel some of our famously, beautiful rural roads, especially as we deal with COVID-19. However, I do have some concerns for two reasons. For one, telehealth appointments require broadband speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and that’s just not there for many West Virginians in rural areas. And two, Veterans are now having to adapt to a new online travel reimbursement process, which is a tough transition for some of our older Veterans or those with limited access to broadband. In your assessment, what can the VA do to ensure telehealth is available to all Veterans who prefer it and how can we help our older Veterans stay connected with the resources they expect, especially with travel?”

A video of Senator Manchin’s questions during Joint Hearing of the House of Representatives and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees can be found here.

A timeline of Senator Manchin’s efforts to expand broadband in West Virginia can be found below or here.