Patch: U.S. PA Lawmakers: Working To Protect Veterans

SOUTHEASTERN, PA. — U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan is leading a team of bipartisan lawmakers working to reconsider a Department of Veterans Affairs’ proposal to close a Coatesville healthcare facility and restructure one in Philadelphia.

The lawmakers said they are worried about the potential impact of a recommendation in a Veterans Affairs report issued this week on healthcare provided for veterans in southeastern Pennsylvania.

In a letter sent Thursday to the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, the lawmakers requested an updated review, noting that the data for the report was collected before the pandemic broke out in 2020.

The letter said that the report concluded that other non-veteran healthcare providers could help with the demand for veterans’ medical care.

However, the letter stated that the situation has changed since 2019, noting that several medical facilities near the Coatesville veterans’ facility have recently closed.

“Our veterans and their families are concerned, and we are concerned for them,” the letter signed by seven lawmakers stated. “We are worried that the needs and voices of the veterans of southeastern Pennsylvania were not heard during the development of these recommendations.”

In addition to Houlahan, a Chester County Democrat, the lawmakers requesting a review of the recommendation are Dwight Evans and Brendan Boyle, Democrats representing Philadelphia; Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican representing Bucks and Montgomery counties; Madeleine Dean, a Democrat representing Philadelphia and Montgomery counties; Susan Wild, a Democrat representing Lehigh Valley, and Mary Scanlon, a Democrat representing Delaware County.

Concerns for veterans

The lawmakers said they are concerned about veterans’ continued healthcare, extended drive time, and loss of access to care and other benefits and services recommended in the report.

The report was submitted to Congress and to an Asset Infrastructure Review Committee to hold public hearings before making a recommendation to President Joe Biden for review in 2023.

According to the report:

  • Coatesville Facility: Built in 1930 on 129 acres, does not meet current design standards for healthcare. The cost to correct the deficiencies is estimated at $120.8 million. In 2019, there were 8,501 veterans living within 30 minutes and 73,481 living within 60 minutes of the Coatesville facility.
  • Philadelphia Facility: Built in 1950 on 22 acres at 3900 Woodland Ave. does not meet current design standards. The cost to correct the deficiencies is estimated at $22 million. The recommendation is to use the Philadelphia veteran’s center for complex cases, and relocate some veterans to new facilities which would be built in King of Prussia and Camden. In 2019, there were 103, 278 veterans living within 60 minutes of the Philadelphia facility.