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Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



S. 1302. A bill to provide for the introduction of pay-for-performance compensation mechanisms into contracts of the Department of Veterans Affairs with community-based outpatient clinics for the provisions of health care services, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009.

As we all know, the Department of Veterans Affairs strives to provide the best possible health care for our nation's heroes. However, it has come to my attention that the quality of care provided to our nation's veterans has been inconsistent among community-based outpatient clinics. Some of these clinics, including two in my home state of Kentucky, are operated by private health care providers under VA contracts. These VA-contracted health care providers are compensated for their work at community-based outpatient clinics on a capitated basis, which means they are essentially paid based on how many new veterans they see during a pay period. These firms are therefore rewarded for the number of veterans they sign up, not for the quality of treatment provided to our veterans. I am concerned this provides contractors with the wrong incentives. Contracted health care providers should have the incentive to provide the best possible care for veterans, not simply get as many veterans as possible through the door once.

As a result of the capitated system, it has been reported that too many of our nation's heroes have faced difficulties at these clinics in scheduling appointments, have suffered from neglect or have received substandard health care. This occurred under the last administration and I am concerned it may be continuing in the current one.

As such, I am introducing the Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009, which attempts to fix the way VA-contracted health care providers are compensated at clinics. This bill would require the VA to begin to introduce a pay-for-performance compensation plan for contractors, thereby gradually incentivizing a higher quality of care for veterans seen at privately-administered community-based outpatient clinics.

This bill gives the VA the flexibility to begin to implement such a system through a pilot program and leaves the VA the discretion as to how to adopt and best implement the pay-for-performance standards. In this respect, the bill defers to the VA on how to execute these changes. It is my hope that my colleagues will support this measure.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD


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