By David Madden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A New Jersey panel looking into the availability of government health care services for veterans has found some serious access issues in the southern part of the Garden State.

Four legislators sat on the 18 member Veterans’ Hospital Task Force, which has been looking into the issue for more than a year now. Their bottom line? The deeper you are in South Jersey, the harder it is to find government-funded care close to home, with many vets forced to travel to Philadelphia, Delaware or North Jersey.

Cape May County State Senator Jeff Van Drew says the panel’s come up with what could be a cost effective solution.

“A card would be issued to veterans. This would be a pilot program and they could access the medical care they need at their local community hospital using this special veterans card.”

The alternative? Build a veterans hospital in South Jersey. Too costly, as Van Drew sees it. He says local doctors and hospitals are on board with the card idea and the push will now be on the state’s congressional delegation to make this happen.

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