Vitter: VA 'deliberately' delaying Lafayette VA Clinic

Vitter: VA 'deliberately' delaying Lafayette VA Clinic

Lafayette, LA (KPLC) - U.S. Sen. David Vitter is upset with the Department of Veterans Affairs' decision to reject the contract for the VA Clinic in Lafayette because of "religious freedom language."

Vitter, R-La., issued a news release Wednesday, which included a letter he sent to VA secretary Robert McDonald. In it, he asked why the VA is rejecting a contract with Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center on the basis of  Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which Vitter said have “been required for all hospital affiliation agreements with Catholic hospitals since 1994.”

"The VA absolutely should have known about religious freedom requirements with Catholic hospitals -- it has even had to address these issues in Baton Rouge before," he said in the news release. "This isn't a legitimate delay. It looks like a deliberate attempt by the VA to conceal its continued inability to get this desperately-needed facility built in Lafayette. We finally have an opportunity to move forward. The VA needs to quit dragging its feet once and for all.

"Therefore, the only logical conclusion one can draw is that the VA deliberately entered into lease contract negotiations with Our Lady of Lourdes under the presumption that it was destined to fail," Vitter said in the letter. "Today I ask you to look into this issue personally and find a way to approve the contract language required by Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in order to open this facility."

Officials have been trying to secure VA clinics for Lafayette and Lake Charles since 2010. The VA announced construction delays for both this past December. In May, the VA said leases should be awarded for both temporary clinics by the end of the summer or early fall.

There has been no word of a delay in proceedings for the Lake Charles clinic.

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