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Noem votes to keep services at Hot Springs and other rural VA facilities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Kristi Noem on Thursday joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing legislation funding priorities for veterans, including language Noem has championed to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from ending or limiting hospital-based services at facilities like the Hot Springs VA Hospital through FY2017. The legislation passed the House with bipartisan support, 295-129.

"South Dakota veterans have made clear how important it is to maintain services at the Hot Springs VA Hospital and yet the administration has gone to all lengths to reduce and eliminate services," said Noem. "Veterans and the Hot Springs community deserve long-term certainty about the future of this facility, but until we can do that in a way that preserves the care they've earned, I'm proud to once again prohibit the VA from spending money to shut down or limit services for rural veterans, including those who are treated in Hot Springs."

Noem initially proposed this language as an amendment to last year's Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, which was then included. Understanding the importance of this provision, Noem's language was built into this year's legislation from the onset.

In addition to offering protections for rural health care facilities, like the Hot Springs VA Hospital, H.R.4974 would provide additional funding for VA medical services, including those that address mental health, suicide prevention, and traumatic brain injury. Support was also given to help modernize the VA with electronic health records and address the ongoing claims and appeals backlog. Additionally, H.R.4974 prevented the closure of Guantanamo Bay and prohibited funding for a facility in the U.S. for detainees.

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