Rep. Miller Votes for Veterans’ Healthcare Overhaul
Washington – Today, U.S. Representative Candice Miller (MI-10) issued the following statement after House passage of the conference report to the final House and Senate legislative fix, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230), designed to address the systemic failures within the Department of Veterans Affairs impacting healthcare services for American veterans:
“The brave men and women who have served this nation, with great distinction, honorably answered the call to protect and defend our freedom. Making sure they receive the care they’ve earned is our moral and legal obligation. Sadly, earlier this year, a shocking internal audit of the VA’s medical facilities revealed systemic failures and widespread mismanagement plaguing the agency and its ability to provide adequate care for our vets.
“To address the problems at the VA, the House passed legislation, agreed to by the Senate, that would allow veterans who cannot get an appointment within 30 days, or who live more than 40 miles away from a VA medical facility, to receive care at a non-VA facility. This commonsense provision, coupled with resources to expand VA facilities and services, will dramatically improve access to care for our vets and allow the agency to identify ways to improve efficiencies through the private sector.
“The legislation will also vastly improve accountability at the VA by removing bureaucratic roadblocks to disciplining employees responsible for the failures and mismanagement at the agency. Finally, it expands educational opportunities for our vets and their families by increasing scholarships and providing in-state tuition rates for those eligible for tuition payments under the G.I. Bill.
“It is incumbent upon Congress to ensure our vets receive proper and timely care, and I believe that the bipartisan, bicameral measure that passed the House today is a positive step towards the much-needed overhaul of the VA’s services.”
The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 includes provisions that would:
- Require the VA to offer non-VA care to veterans unable to secure an appointment at a VA medical facility within 30 days or if they reside more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility.
- Provide $5 billion to the VA to increase access to care through the hiring of physicians and other medical staff and by improving the VA’s physical infrastructure.
- Authorize 27 major medical facility leases in 18 states and Puerto Rico.
- Authorize the VA to fire or demote Senior Executive Service (SES) employees and Title 38 SES-equivalent employees for poor performance or misconduct.
- Prohibit SES employees from receiving pay, bonuses and benefits during the appeal process and reduce funding for bonuses available to VA employees by $40 million each year through FY 2024.
- Require an independent assessment of VA medical care and establish a Congressional Commission on Care to evaluate access to care throughout the VA health care system.
- Extend for three years a pilot program to provide rehabilitation, quality of life, and community integration services to veterans with traumatic brain injury.
- Improve the delivery of care to veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma as well as care for Native Hawaiian and Native American veterans.
- Require public colleges to provide in-state tuition to veterans and eligible dependents in order for the school to remain eligible to receive G.I. Bill education payments.
According to current CBO estimates, the bill would result in net spending of roughly $11-$12 billion over a 10-year period, making it less expensive than previous VA reform packages passed by the House and Senate. For more information on the bill, please visit the House Veterans Affairs Committee online.