Washington, D.C -- Following numerous accounts that shine light on a number of major Department of Veteran Affairs failures, including data and appointment manipulation that led to patient harm and wrongful death at VA hospitals across the nation, today Alaskan Congressman Don Young stood behind bipartisan legislation to ensure these types of disastrous failures never occur again and those responsible are held accountable. H.R. 4031, the Department of Veterans Management Accountability Act of 2014, passed the House today by a vote of 390 to 33.
"As a veteran myself, I was deeply troubled to see the reports of negligence and incompetence in VA hospitals across the country that led to the preventable death of our veterans," said Congressman Don Young. "We owe our veterans the world, but at the very least a VA that fulfills this nation's most basic promise for proper and timely healthcare. This is an essential first step in strengthening the VA and providing peace of mind to the brave men and women who have dutifully served this country. This legislation works to ensure the VA's own bureaucratic vulnerabilities, which make it nearly impossible to be held accountable for there actions, do not impede on its abilities to carry out its basic responsibilities. I will not sit idle as our veterans are disgraced by their own federal government, and will work to my fullest ability to ensure these heartbreaking failures never occur again."
H.R. 4031, would allow for the removal of Senior Executive Service employees of the Department of Veteran Affairs based on their performance. The legislation would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to remove employees from federal service entirely or transfer the individual to a General Schedule position within the current civil service system. The legislation also requires the Secretary to notify the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees within 30 days after removing an employee. The legislation works to reduce the widespread lack of accountability for senior VA executives who have presided over negligence and mismanagement, many of whom have received bonuses under the current system rather than punishment.
Congressman Young has long worked to reduce the Veterans' Affairs backlog and most recently supported the passage of H.R. 4486, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, bipartisan legislation in the House to provide $344 million for the modernization of VA electronic health records and $173 million for a paperless processing system to help the disability backlog.
"Congress must once and for all defeat the backlog that plagues our Veterans' Affairs system," said Congressman Don Young. "This backlog, which in many cases exceeds hundreds of days, is entirely offensive to the brave men and women who so valiantly served this nation, and we must do everything necessary to begin unraveling this atrocity so we can once and for all fulfill this nation's responsibility to take care of those who have protected us."
According the Department of Veterans' Affairs Inspector General, 26 VA locations have been identified nationwide for investigation on the falsification of records and delays in treatment, including the Phoenix VA hospital where more than 40 veterans are reported to have died due to mismanagement.