House Passes Two More Bills in Two Days on Access and Accountability at VA
Washington DC (June 10, 2014) – Within 24 hours, the House has passed two more critical bills to improve accountability and reform access to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Today, the Veteran Access to Care Act, HR 4810, passed overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of [426-0]. Last night, the House also passed the Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act, HR 2072. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) supported both HR 4810 and HR 2072.
The passage of these two bills comes after yesterday’s release of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) audit, which among many findings, reported that more than 57,000 patients across the country have been waiting at least three months for appointments at VA hospitals and clinics.
“IAVA applauds the House for its speed in passing these crucial bills that will help reform access to care and hold the VA accountable,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “The House’s leadership recognizes this is a crisis and not the time to play politics. Now we need the Senate to step up. The President must also get involved as we wait to hear a strategic plan from the Administration to restore confidence at the VA. It is outrageous that vets across the country are waiting months to see a doctor. At moments like this, we expect to see coordinated and rapid change in coming weeks – the health of our veterans is on the line.”
The Veteran Access to Care Act focuses on increasing access to care for veterans and addressing issues at VA medical centers. It would require the VA to provide non-VA care to veterans if the VA cannot meet its wait time standards or live too far from a VA facility to receive proper care. Specifically, any veteran eligible for VA care could receive non-VA care if:
– The veteran lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility, or
– The veteran has waited longer than the VA’s established wait-time goal for an appointment, or
– The veteran has been notified by a VA medical facility that an appointment is not available within its established wait-time goals.
The Demanding Accountability For Veterans Act would proactively forward elements of the IG action plans, including requiring:
– The IG to report to HVAC and SVAC if the Secretary does not appropriately respond with significant progress towards a goal set by the IG,
– The Secretary to submit the names of all responsible managers,
– Each identified manager to resolve the issue and be provided with appropriate counseling,
– Identified managers to also be evaluated on whether or not the manager took appropriate actions to correct an identified issue, and
– The identified manager to forfeit any bonus or award if the issue cannot be resolved.
Last Monday Rieckhoff, joined by IAVA veterans from across the country, unveiled eight steps the Obama Administration and Congress can take now to restore confidence in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among the steps are recommendations from IAVA’s 2014 Policy Agenda. IAVA urged Congress and the President to enact all of the recommendations from the plan.