Heinrich Statement On VA’s Recommendations To The Asset And Infrastructure Review Commission

“Closing down community-based outpatient clinics that New Mexico veterans rely on is not an option – and it will not happen without a fight.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released its recommendations for the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission, which could impact the delivery of health care services at the community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) in Gallup, Las Vegas, Española, and Raton.

“Closing down community-based outpatient clinics that New Mexico veterans rely on is not an option – and it will not happen without a fight,”said Heinrich. “This multi-year process, which started under the Trump administration, has relied on pre-pandemic data that doesn’t accurately reflect the current realities of veterans in our state, including access to broadband, health care provider shortages, and having nowhere else to turn to for medical services in rural New Mexico. I have worked closely with these communities to open and support their CBOCs. I will fight like hell every step of the way to save these clinics and improve access to the quality care and benefits that our veterans earned through their service.”

Today, Senator Heinrich spoke with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis R. McDonough to emphasize how the closure of New Mexico community-based outpatient clinics (CBOC) would have a significant negative impact on veterans. The Senator invited the Secretary to join him at CBOCs in New Mexico for him to be able to see the on-the-ground potential impacts of the recommendations.

AIR Commission recommendations are the first step in a multi-year process—they can include remodeling, building new facilities, moving, closing facilities and changing services offered. The President recently nominated individuals for the AIR Commission, all of whom will require Senate confirmation. Under the law, all VA proposals are required to be reviewed by the Commission, the President, and Congress.

Senator Heinrich was present for the grand openings of both the Raton and Gallup CBOCs in 2014 and 2015, respectively.