Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) issued the following statement regarding House passage of legislation to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs and make it easier for veterans to get help. By improving access to care from non-department of Veterans Affairs doctors, veterans will be able to see providers more quickly. The Conference Report on H.R. 3230, the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act, would improve the ability of veterans to seek private care.
"Provisions I have supported will allow a veteran to seek care more quickly by increasing access to private care. This bill includes needed reforms to ensure that our veterans are able receive the care they deserve," Blackburn said. "Through the years, I have heard from the veterans and their families in my district who have made it clear that they want the opportunity to seek needed medical care outside the VA due to long wait times and the unacceptably slow bureaucratic system. Additionally, I have supported legislation, included in this bill, which clarifies the authority of the Secretary of the VA to fire or demote officials who do not do their jobs correctly. This bill is an incremental step to bring about necessary reforms to ensure that America keeps its promise to our veterans."
Under the agreement reached by House and Senate leaders, $5 billion in VA funds would be reprogrammed to hire new doctors and nurses; provides authorization for 27 new "major medical facility" leases; and gives the VA Secretary new authority to fire or demote senior officials accused of mismanagement. It also removes bureaucratic barriers that slowed hiring and prohibits bonuses for VA employees through fiscal year 2016. The conference report now goes to the Senate for consideration.