Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Miller Introduces Emergency Legislation to Help Veterans Receive Timely Access to Medical Care
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Chairman Jeff Miller introduced H.R. 4810, the Veterans Access to Care Act, emergency legislation aimed at helping veterans receive timely access to medical care. After introducing the bill, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“The news about VA’s delays in care crisis just keeps getting worse. The recent deaths of at least 23 veterans have been linked to delayed VA medical care. Another 35 veterans have died while awaiting care in the Phoenix area alone, 57,000 veteran patients have been waiting at least 90 days for their first VA medical appointment, and an additional 64,000 veterans appear to have been denied appointments after requesting them. It’s unfortunate I have to introduce legislation to address this problem, because the department has had the authority to offer veterans health care services outside of the VA system for years. However, the continuing revelations of data manipulation and interminably long patient wait times have made it disturbingly clear that VA is unwilling to utilize that authority as often as it should. I know the Senate is equally frustrated with the department, and I hope it will move swiftly on similar legislation so VA can begin to restore trust with the veterans it is charged with serving.”- Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
About the Veterans Access to Care Act
- The Veterans Access to Care Act would require VA to offer non-VA care at the department’s expense to any enrolled veteran who cannot get an appointment within VA wait time goals or who lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility
- Any care provided by a non-Department facility not under an existing VA contract would be reimbursed at the rate set by the VA, Tricare, or Medicare—whichever is greatest
- The access portions of the bill would sunset two years after enactment of the bill
- The bill would ban bonuses for all VA employees from FY 2014 – 2016 and require VA to submit a quarterly report to Congress including usage info and an accounting as to what purchase methods were used to provide non-VA care
- The bill would require an independent assessment of Veterans Health Administration performance, to include recommendations for improvement of VA’s current and projected health care capabilities and resources
- Under the bill, VA would be required to report to HVAC/SVAC on the Department’s response to the assessment’s findings and provide timelines for fully implementing the audit’s recommendations.
- The bill would also require the Office of Management and Budget to provide an estimate of the budgetary effects of the bill and any transfer authority needed to utilize savings realized by eliminating bonuses as well as a request for any additional budgetary resources, or transfers or reprogramming of existing budgetary resources necessary to pay for the bill
- The Veterans Access to Care Act would complement the VA Management Accountability Act, a bill Chairman Miller introduced that passed the house overwhelmingly last month and would give the VA secretary the power to fire failing VA executives for performance