WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and Representative Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today applauded the announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs that it is extending the comment period for reaction to their Black Hills Health Care System reconfiguration plan to June 30, 2012:
“The VA’s decision to further extend the deadline is in large part due to the community’s commitment to having their voices heard. The VA should not make changes to the Hot Springs facility without hearing directly from those that would be affected the most,” said Johnson.
“The community of Hot Springs has been working hard to put together a proposal and continues to wait on a cost-benefit analysis from the VA, so this extension was a necessary step. Hopefully the VA will provide the analysis in the near future,” said Thune.
“The VA hospital in Hot Springs provides vital care to our veterans and is an integral part of the community. It is critically important that we ensure all the facts are on the table before decisions are made by the VA. This extension will help ensure everyone with a comment or concern will have their voices heard, and I encourage folks to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Noem.
The release by the VA is included below:
VA Officials Extend Comment Period to June 30, 2012
Honoring requests by the South Dakota congressional delegation, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Disabled American Veterans, VA has agreed to extend the comment period for the public to give input on the re-configuration plan proposed by the Department of Veterans Affairs Integrated Service Network (VISN) 23 and VA Black Hills Health Care System to June 30, 2012. On June 30, the period for comment on the proposed re-configuration plan and submission of any alternate proposals ends.
Since December 12, 2011, VISN 23 and VA Black Hills Health Care System officials have been hosting town hall meetings in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming to share information about the strategic planning proposals which focus on ensuring health care quality and safety, and strategies that bring health care services closer to where Veterans live.
The community has been fully engaged in these discussions and the feedback has been thoughtful and productive. “We want to hear from our Veterans and the community. This extended feedback period will give those who have not had sufficient time to submit their comments or concerns some additional time to have their voices heard” said Steve DiStasio, Director VA Black Hills Health Care System. “We welcome their input.”
Veterans, family members, community and business leaders, and the general public are invited to read more about the proposals and share feedback on line at http://www.blackhills.va.gov/VABlackHillsFuture/