News Releases

VA Releases "Draft" National CARES Plan

Aug 04 2003

Facilities at Vancouver and Walla Walla targeted for changes and potential closure

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Today, less than two weeks after indicating its desire to potentially close three veterans' health care facilities in Washington state, the Department of Veterans Affairs released its "draft" National CARES Plan. The CARES (Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services) Commission is conducting a nationwide review of how to "restructure" veteran's health care.

Today, two Washington state veterans' health facilities – in Vancouver and Walla Walla – are in the CARES Commission's crosshairs.

The CARES Commission will take the "draft" National CARES Plan and conduct hearings across the country. Hearings are scheduled in Washington state at both Vancouver and Walla Walla in late September. The CARES Commission will forward final recommendations to the Secretary of Veterans' Affairs by November 30, 2003. Secretary Principi will then make a final decision on the CARES plan by December 30, 2003 according to the VA's timeline announced today.

"While I am delighted the VA has taken American Lake off of its potential closure list, I continue to have real concerns with the VA's handling of both the Vancouver and Walla Walla facilities," Senator Murray said. "Conceptually, CARES is a worthwhile initiative. But I am troubled by the eleventh-hour directives from Washington, D.C. asking local officials to consider closing these two facilities."

"At a time when American troops are serving overseas and may need these services when they return, we should be improving veteran's health care not looking to shut down medical facilities," Murray continued.

Senator Murray is a senior member – and the first woman to serve – on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. Murray is the co-sponsor of legislation to require additional congressional oversight of the CARES process.