This week, Congressman Brett Guthrie voted in support of legislation to address the dire situation at the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as at hospitals and clinics across the country.
“The reports and subsequent findings of grave problems at the VA have been unsettling to say the least,” said Guthrie. “America is what it is because of our nation’s veterans. Ensuring proper care and treatment of our veterans when they return home is the very least we can do.”
The bipartisan agreement authorizes an immediate $10 billion to address the most urgent needs for veterans who cannot be seen at VA facilities in a timely manner and more than $6 billion to hire health professionals and open new facilities. It also sets out long-term reforms to ensure this never happens again.
This bill will require the VA to offer non-VA care to any veteran who is enrolled in the system as of August 1, 2014, or is a newly discharged combat veteran, and who is unable to schedule an appointment at a VA facility within 30 days or who lives more than 40 miles from a VA hospital or outpatient clinic. It also requires a Congressional Commission on Care to examine both the access to and quality of care across all VA facilities. Consistent with legislation previously passed in the House, the bill will also authorize the VA to fire Senior Executive Service employees (and other equivalent employees) for not meeting their performance standards. Funding for bonuses will be reduced by $40 million each year through FY2024.
“As ongoing audits provide a clearer picture of the challenges facing veterans who are seeking care, this bill moves the process forward and provides immediate assistance to ensure that all veterans receive the proper and timely care that they deserve,” said Guthrie.