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    Posted June 14, 2014 by
    Farmersburg, Indiana
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    Cornfield Lawmakers Unite to Support Veterans


    With  all the talk of polarization and dysfunction in Congress, the news was  actually not surprising this week as members of both the House of  Representatives and the Senate found common ground in response to the  scandal plaguing the Veterans Affairs medical system.

    Overwhelmingly,  in both chambers lawmakers united to pass legislation to insure that  veterans receive timely and effective service and care.

    Both  chambers had extremely insignificant numbers of those opposed to the  measures which will allow veterans to seek civilian care rather than  wait on the VA to straighten out the tangled and perhaps criminal  activity that has been pervasive nationwide.

    Investigations have revealed one too many veterans dying while waiting to be seen by a doctor.

    Indiana  Senator Dan Coats, a Republican, has been out front on the issue and  the need to keep the government's and the nation's promises to veterans.  He has appeared on CNN and co-sponsore the legislation which all, but  four senators approved this week.

    In  letters to their constituents, of which I am one, Indiana's other  Senator Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, and Indiana 8th District  Representative Dr. Larry Buschon, a Republican, also voiced what Coats  has been saying on television screens.

    The issue has bridged the partisan and ideological divide.

    Donnelly on the VA scandal:

    Joining my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Senate, I helped  pass bipartisan legislation that seeks to reduce wait times at VA  health care facilities, while increasing accountability at the  Department of Veterans Affairs. Passage of this bill follows the VA  Inspector General’s interim report on patient wait times and scheduling  problems at the VA health center in Phoenix and the VA’s face-to-face  audit of health care facilities nationwide, including in Indiana.

    The Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 would:

    * Authorize the VA to Hire More Doctors: The VA would be authorized to quickly hire doctors in areas with shortages.

    *  Enable Veterans to Access Care Outside the VA: A two-year program would  be established to allow veterans to get care from certain non-VA  providers if they experience long wait times for an appointment or live  more than 40 miles from a VA health facility.

    *  Expand the VA Secretary’s Authority to Fire or Demote VA Agency  Officials: It would be easier for the VA Secretary to immediately fire  or demote senior VA officials based on poor job performance.

    *  Establish New VA Facilities: The VA would be granted authority to  immediately finalize leases on 26 major facilities, while a Commission  would be established to improve medical facility construction and  maintenance.

    Our veterans  deserve timely access to the very best care we can provide. This bill  would strengthen our ability to hold VA officials accountable for their  job performance. It also takes steps necessary to help cut wait times  and ensure veterans get quick access to quality care whether from the VA  or other providers in our communities. While passage of this bill by  the Senate marks critical progress, there is a lot left to do to ensure  veterans get the care they deserve. I won’t stop working until we are  fully delivering on the promises made to Hoosier heroes in return for  their service.

    Buschon on the VA scandal:

    Recent  information regarding actions taken by VA hospitals across the country  has brought to light disturbing evidence about the care our veterans are  receiving. Secret waitlists, data manipulation, and other intentionally  negligent behavior from senior VA officials cannot be tolerated.

    We know that funding is not the issue and we also know that the  President's Administration was aware of the negligent care at various  facilities.

    That is why  after an inspector general report was released confirming that this  problem was not isolated to Phoenix and instead a systemic failure, I  called on VA Secretary Shinseki to resign his post immediately. In the  House, we have passed legislation that will help bring accountability  for these deplorable actions and ensure these issues are not repeated  moving forward. But we can't stop there.

    Changes need to be made to ensure that veterans receive the care they were promised and that they deserve.

    I support measures that expand access for veterans outside of the  traditional VA facilities so that they can see the doctor or visit the  hospital of their choice if they are limited by proximity or waitlists.  This is something I believe should be covered under their VA benefits.

    I have supported this common-sense idea since I served as a medical  resident at the Milwaukee VA. I trained there for over 2.5 years along  side many dedicated Americans who every day serve their country and care  for the well-being of our veterans.

    We owe it to our veterans and the dedicated VA employees to solve the challenges.

    From the Cornfield, when it matters, it goes to prove that our elected officials can work together.

    Now if we can get their heads out of their butts for other needed legislation.

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