South Dakota Congressional Delegation reacts to meeting with VA - KOTA Territory News

South Dakota Congressional Delegation reacts to meeting with VA Secretary

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"The ball is now in VA Secretary Shinseki's court." -- Those words from South Dakota's U.S. Senator Tim Johnson during a conference call from Washington Wednesday morning.

South Dakota's delegation met on Monday with the secretary to listen to the Save the VA committee's proposal on how to keep the Hot Springs VA open.

Senator John Thune said he felt the secretary was at least listening, and showed willingness to work with them.

Thune hopes that the secretary will go along with the proposal set by the save the VA Committee, or at least wait for a period of time so that they could get a more accurate economic baseline.

"Many of the assumptions that the VA was making in their proposal were based upon what I think was inaccurate cost data. Partly because for a long time the VA has been trying to sort of systematically shut down this facility and so the cost information they have is not accurate," said Thune.

"I will continue to raise questions with the VA about the proposal, and expect they provide us with complete answers. But ultimately decisions about the reconfiguration of the Black Hills healthcare systems are going to be made by the VA, not by our congress," said Johnson.

Both senators say VA Secretary Shinseki has not set a timetable for a decision, but would like to decide sooner rather than later.

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