Jul 31 2014
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded passage of legislation to reduce wait times for veterans seeking health care and to increase accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act will now be sent to the president to be signed into law.
"California is home to more veterans than any other state, and too many of our veterans are waiting too long for the care they have earned and deserve,"said Senator Feinstein. "This bill is a significant step toward ensuring that veterans have timely access to health care and that federal officials charged with overseeing our veterans’ care are held accountable for their job performance."
Feinstein continued, "While passage of this bill is progress, we must continue to work to address the long-term challenges facing VA as veterans age and more veterans enter the system to ensure the department can meet its obligations to the men and women who’ve served our country."
The legislation contains several provisions to improve access to health care and increase accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs, including:
- Allowing veterans to access care through non-VA providers for the next three years when the VA cannot give the veteran an appointment within 30 days or if a veteran lives more than 40 miles from the closest VA medical facility.
- Allowing for the firing and demotion of Senior Executive Service officials who are not up to the job of ensuring veterans receive high-quality health care.
- Providing $5 billion to allow VA to quickly hire new physicians, nurses and clinical staff.
- Providing VA with resources to lease 27 major medical facilities. The proposal includes leases for four California facilities in Chico, Chula Vista, Redding and San Diego.
- Requiring an independent assessment of access to and quality of VA medical care and establishes a Congressional Commission on Care to evaluate access to care throughout the VA health care system.
- Requiring the Department of Health & Human Services to evaluate and rate VA hospitals on health care quality and make this information publicly available.