The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday finalized its decision to close a large portion of the VA hospital in Hot Springs.
U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem issued a joint statement saying they are deeply concerned with VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s decision, which they called a “direct result of a flawed process and continued data discrepancies.”
“The Hot Springs campus, supported by a dedicated medical staff and compassionate community, is critical to the veterans it serves,” the delegation said. “We are committed, as we have always been, to finding a solution that puts our veterans in the best possible position to receive the high-quality health care and support they deserve.”
The lawmakers said they will continue to work together and with veterans and community stakeholders to determine the next steps.
The VA issued its final environmental impact statement on the Black Hills Health Care system on Nov. 10, marking the last formal procedural step prior to the closure decision. A new in-patient residential treatment facility would be built in Rapid City.
During a Dec. 6 meeting in Washington, D.C., the delegation encouraged McDonald to thoroughly consider the input he received from veterans, staff and other stakeholders. The lawmakers say existing law prohibits the VA from reducing services in South Dakota in fiscal year 2017 unless the agency meets a series of requirements, including a national realignment strategy, which have yet to be initiated.