FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2014
Contact E.R. Anderson (202) 224-8609
Or Steve Kelly (717) 782-3951
Toomey Co-Sponsors Bipartisan Sanders-McCain Vets Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is cosponsoring a bipartisan measure to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) secretary to fire poor performing employees and to give veterans flexibility on where they receive medical care.
Recently, the American people learned about outrageous examples of mismanagement at the VA that include excessive wait times for needed care; substandard care; dishonest reporting on care; and cutting corners that may have even cost veterans’ lives. VA facilities are being investigated for failing to provide timely appointments and then cooking the books to indicate otherwise.
Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have introduced the bipartisan Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 to address some of these problems.
"The men and women who served in uniform should be first in line for the best quality medical care in the world," said Sen. Toomey. "Many today are not, and Congress needs to work together to tackle this serious problem and restore accountability at the VA. Our veterans deserve solutions, not more partisanship in Washington.
"I have said repeatedly that the VA secretary should be able to fire employees whose job performance is unsatisfactory. I also have long held that vets should have the option to obtain care from a private-sector health care provider. While this bill is not perfect, I appreciate that these two reforms have been included and am pleased to join Senators Sanders and McCain. I hope my Senate colleagues pass this bipartisan measure as soon as possible."
Provisions in the VA reform legislation include:
• Veterans Choice Card: Provides veterans with choice and flexibility in medical providers
o If VA cannot schedule an appointment for a veteran within certain wait-time performance metrics or the veteran resides more than 40 miles from any VA medical center or Community Based Outpatient Clinic, then the veteran has the option to receive care from a federally approved health care provider outside the VA. Examples include private sector providers who participate in the Medicare or Tricare programs as well as Federal Qualified Health Centers.
• Accountability provisions: Provides the VA secretary the authority to demote or fire Senior Executive Service employees based on performance
o Allows for immediate firing of poor-performing employees with no pay while in appeal period; allows for some due process
• Expedited authority to hire more VA doctors and nurses, using unobligated VA funds
• Improved access to health care for military sexual assault survivors.
Elizabeth "E.R." Anderson
U.S Senator Pat Toomey
248 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510