WASHINGTON (6/11/14) — Representative Ed Whitfield (KY-01), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, is pleased to announce the passage of H.R. 4810, the Veterans Access to Care Act of 2014 in the House of Representatives by a vote of 426 to 0.
Whitfield, an original cosponsor of the legislation, has worked tirelessly to ensure our nation’s veterans receive proper access to the care and treatment they have earned and deserve.
A recent House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs investigation uncovered evidence of improper care some veterans have received while at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities. Of particular concern is the evidence centered around the Phoenix VA facility, where numerous veterans died while awaiting care. Further investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the VA has shown these problems to be widespread, across the entire VA system, including reports of improper waiting lists at some of the facilities within the VA’s Heartland Network, which serves parts of Kentucky. Following those reports, Whitfield sent letters to Dr. William Patterson, Director of the VA Heartland Network, and to Mr. Richard Griffin Acting Inspector General of the VA requesting more information and additional action.
To address this problem, the House of Representatives considered and passed the Veterans Access to Care Act. This bill allows veterans who are not able to receive care at a VA facility in a timely manner, or who live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility to receive medical care at a non-VA facility at the expense of the VA. The Act also eliminates all performance awards and bonuses for VA employees for the next two years, and requires the VA to contract with an independent entity to conduct an assessment of healthcare provided and develop a plan to implement the assessment’s recommendations.
Whitfield stated, “Our country owes an enormous debt to those who have served in uniform. Veterans should have the care they have rightly earned, and should not have to endure the delays and backlogs that have chronically plagued VA facilities across the country. I was absolutely appalled when I learned veterans in and around my District are experiencing these problems first-hand, and I felt the need for immediate action in Congress. I am pleased the House of Representatives moved quickly to ensure our veterans are provided with outside care when they need it. It is now time for the Senate and the President to act so we can fix this problem that has pained our brave men and women for too long.”
Information provided by Marty Irby
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