Friday, June 13, 2014

Whats changing at the VA

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

legislation.

• 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

days).

• 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.