The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recommended on Monday the closure of three hospitals but the opening of dozens of other facilities as it looks to overhaul a system that serves roughly 9 million veteran enrollees nationwide.
A report on Monday from the VA said that medical centers in Massachusetts, New York and Ohio would close along with other facilities. It added that hundreds of new points of care were set to be opened, increasing access to primary care, mental health treatment and other specialty care, according to USA Today.
The report cited changing demographics of veterans, including younger, more diverse populations, as one of the reasons for change, USA Today reported.
“VA came to these recommendations by asking ourselves one question above all else: what’s best for the Veterans we serve?” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement.
“We’ve spent the last several weeks and months communicating about this with VA employees, union partners, state partners, Veteran service organizations, Congress, and more. I’m continuing to consult with our unions, and will do so moving forward, because I so appreciate the strong partnership we have with them,” McDonough added.
While the plans include intentions of opening 80 new facilities to provide care for veterans, congressional lawmakers in areas impacted by the closures have been critical of the move.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) was outside a VA medical center in Brooklyn on Sunday in opposition to plans to close it, according to USA Today.
“We will not allow the Biden Administration to take away health services from our veterans,” Malliotakis said in a tweet.
A presidential commission will consider the VA’s recommendations issued on Monday over the next year before submitting its own recommendations, the department said.