La. delegation seeks meeting on VA clinic funding

On Tuesday, members of the Louisiana congressional delegation submitted a letter to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki requesting a face-to-face meeting to discuss the future of funding for clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles that has been in limbo for the past two years.

Legislation that could push the clinics and 25 other VA clinic projects toward completion is pending after a nearly two-year delay due to a change in how the federal government calculates VA leases.

In Tuesday’s letter, delegates requested that Shinseki respond by March 1, acknowledging his support of the authorization of the clinics or to detail his concerns with the legislation, so the issues could be resolved.

Plans to expand the existing VA outpatient clinic in Lafayette began in 2010; however, a paperwork error detected in early 2012 delayed the Lafayette and Lake Charles projects. The changes in how VA leases are calculated further delayed the projects.

“The veterans of Louisiana have waited long enough to have access to the quality care we have promised them, and our delegation is ready to take any action necessary to end these needless delays,” the delegates wrote in Tuesday’s letter.

The letter was signed by the entire Louisiana delegation: U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, Bill Cassidy, John Fleming, Vance McAllister, Cedric Richmond and Steve Scalise.