Just received this from my VetRep at the Employment Security Department here in WA state.
CARING FOR AMERICA’S VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES
ENSURING VETERANS ACCESS TO CARE ACT OF 2014
The Inspector General’s interim report on Patient Wait Times, Scheduling Practices, and Alleged Patient
Deaths at the Phoenix Health Care System and the results of VA’s face-to-face audit raise a number of issues
that must be addressed without delay. Senator Sanders’ legislation would increase Department accountability
and immediately improve access to health care. Below is a summary of some of the major initiatives of this
• Authority for Immediate Removal: This legislation would provide the VA Secretary authority to
immediately remove incompetent senior executives based on poor job performance while maintaining
due process for those employees. At most, the process should take no more than 30 days from firing to
conclusion of the appeal period.
• Authority for the Acting Secretary to Remove Incompetent Employees: This bill would also provide
authority for VA’s Acting Secretary to remove senior executives notwithstanding the 120-day moratorium
in current law. If the Miller or Rubio bills pass “as is” the Acting Secretary would have no ability to fire
people immediately – rendering the provision useless for four months.
Removal of Incompetent Senior Officials
Shortening Wait Times for Veterans
• Immediate Action to Reduce Wait Times: This legislation would standardize VA’s process for sending
care into the community by requiring VA to take into account wait times for care at VA, the health of the
veteran, and the distance the veteran would be required to travel, as well as the veterans preference, when
authorizing care for the veteran when VA is unable to provide such care within its stated goal (currently 14
• Bolstering VA’s Ability to Bring in Doctors: This bill would give VA the ability to rapidly hire new
doctors, nurses and other health care providers in areas where there are identified shortages. It would allow
National Health Service Corps participants to receive scholarships and loan repayment for employment
at VA facilities, making it easier for VA to attract needed personnel. Finally, it would extend access to
VA’s health care scholarship program for those individuals pursuing a medical degree with the intent of
specializing in primary care.
Addressing VA’s Long-Term Needs
• Authorization of Major Medical Facility Leases: This legislation would authorize VA to enter into
27 major medical facility leases in 18 states and Puerto Rico. In many instances, these leases would
improve access to care closer to home, and would increase the availability of specialty care services in
these locations. In addition, these would allow VA to decompress over-utilized VA facilities. Due to
unprecedented scoring issues that arose during fiscal year 2013, Congress has not yet authorized the leases
VA requested during the fiscal year 2013 and 2014 budget cycles.
• Access to VA Health Care: This bill would require the President to create a Commission to look at VA
health care access issues and recommend actions to bolster capacity. A report to the President would be
required within 90 days of the Commission’s first meeting.
• Capital Planning for VA Medical Facilities: This bill would require the establishment of a Commission on
Capital Planning for VA medical facilities to improve VA’s capital asset processes, from facility planning
and individual project management to managing the multi-billion dollar backlog of facility construction and
maintenance projects in order to ensure veterans can receive treatment in safe facilities.