VA Sec'y to meet with S.D delegation on Hot Springs proposal

U-S Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has turned down a request to come to Hot Springs to talk about the VA's proposed reorganization plan that would close the Hot Springs VA Medical Center, but will meet with opponents of the plan next month in Washington, DC.

Eight members of the South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming congressional delegations had written Shinseki in October, urging him to come to Hot Springs to see the facilities and discuss the proposal, but he said in a letter dated Wednesday that it wasn't possible and that one of his undersecretaries could meet with the lawmakers in Washington.

The response was unacceptable to the three members of South Dakota's congressional delegation...Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune and Congresswoman Kristi Noem...leading Johnson, chairman of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, to push for something more. That led to the Secretary's meeting with the congressional delegation in Washington.

The VA calls for replacing the Hot Springs center with an outpatient clinic and dialysis unit, a new residential rehabilitation center in Rapid City, and expanded contracting for medical services through hospitals and health care providers across its service area. Shineski says a final decision has not been made yet while still offering comments generally supportive of the idea.

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