- Posted June 14, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
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.