Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded Senate passage of the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act.
The bill contains several provisions to improve access to health care and increase accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs, including:
•Allowing for the immediate firing of Senior Executive Service officials who are not up to the job of ensuring veterans receive high quality health care.
•Allowing the VA to quickly hire new physicians, nurses and clinical staff.
•Providing VA with resources to lease 26 major medical facilities. The proposal includes leases for four California facilities in Chico, Chula Vista, Redding and San Diego.
•Allowing veterans to access care through non-VA providers for the next two years when the VA cannot give the veteran a timely appointment or if a veteran lives more than 40 miles from the closet VA medical facility.
•Requiring the Department of Health & Human Services to evaluate and rate VA hospitals on health care quality and make this information publicly available.
•Establishing a Commission on Access to Care and a Commission on Capital Planning to explore long-term solutions to provide veterans with high quality and readily accessible medical care.
Feinstein released the following statement after the bill was passed:
“Today the Senate showed that when we put our minds to it, we can get things done. The bill that passed the Senate is a big step toward fixing the systemic problems within the VA.
“This legislation will help shorten appointment wait times for veterans, improve health care quality and address accountability issues. Importantly, the bill will provide VA with resources to address structural access shortages while taking steps to ease wait times in the short-term.
“I urge the House of Representatives to work quickly with the Senate to produce a final bill that will allow veterans to receive the health care they need and invest in VA health care system.”