Overhauling the VA

Senator Saxby Chambliss
2014-08-01 11:18:07
United States Senator For Georgia Saxby Chambliss Dear Friends: Thursday evening, the �Veterans� Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014� was passed in the Senate with a vote of 91-3. It will now move to the White House to await President Obama�s signature.�� This important piece of legislation includes a number of provisions that will fix the longstanding dysfunction within the VA healthcare system. Currently, at least 42 facilities are being investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (IG) for allegations regarding inappropriate scheduling policies. It has been reported that at least 40 patients died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA Healthcare System, and the IG revealed in an interim report that veterans in Phoenix have been waiting an average of 115 days just to see a primary care doctor.� The fact that our veterans have been systematically mistreated and inadequately cared for is simply unacceptable. This bill will improve the VA�s scheduling systems, training and hiring methods, and set performance standards and metrics for wait time and care, which will be evaluated by the veterans who receive it. Furthermore, this law authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to remove or demote any individual from the Senior Executive Service if the Secretary determines their performance-now based on definitive metrics-warrants such a removal. Additionally, this bill will initiate a program allowing veterans to have the option of receiving care through non-VA providers in certain circumstances. This will make it easier for veterans who live far from care centers, or who are unable to obtain an appointment. The severe and deep-rooted problems at the VA required a complete overhaul. This legislation promises to implement changes that would be critical for introducing individual accountability to the VA, something that clearly has been absent for some time. I am happy and relieved to see these changes take place, and I will continue to support the push for full and immediate accountability by the VA leadership. In other VA news, the Senate this Tuesday unanimously confirmed Robert McDonald by a vote of 97-0 to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He will replace Eric Shinseki, who resigned in May. McDonald is a former army officer who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he most recently served as the CEO of Procter & Gamble. McDonald has promised to take "immediate actions" in his first 90 days, and I am confident that his military service and business background will render him a success. Very Truly Yours, [image = chambliss.enews.senate.gov/images/user_images/CSC-sig.jpg] P.S. If you are planning a visit to D.C., I hope you will stop by my office and say hello, or pick up a pack of Georgia peanuts. You can also click here [link 1]for more information on activities to do while you are in town. Should you need assistance with a federal agency, you may contact my office toll free at 800-234-4208, or send an e-mail by clicking the icon at the top of this page that says �e-mail me.� You can also send a letter to one of my office addresses listed at the very bottom of this newsletter. Chambliss in the News: Chambliss on Conflicts in Ukraine & Middle East: "Now is Not the Time for Half-Measures" [link 2] Senate Intelligence Committee Advances FY2015 Authorization Bill [link 3] Chambliss Statement on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 [link 4] Chambliss Statement on CBO's Long-Term Budget Outlook Report [link 5]
August 01, 2014

Dear Friends:

Thursday evening, the �Veterans� Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014� was passed in the Senate with a vote of 91-3. It will now move to the White House to await President Obama�s signature.  

This important piece of legislation includes a number of provisions that will fix the longstanding dysfunction within the VA healthcare system. Currently, at least 42 facilities are being investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (IG) for allegations regarding inappropriate scheduling policies. It has been reported that at least 40 patients died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA Healthcare System, and the IG revealed in an interim report that veterans in Phoenix have been waiting an average of 115 days just to see a primary care doctor. 

The fact that our veterans have been systematically mistreated and inadequately cared for is simply unacceptable. This bill will improve the VA�s scheduling systems, training and hiring methods, and set performance standards and metrics for wait time and care, which will be evaluated by the veterans who receive it. Furthermore, this law authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to remove or demote any individual from the Senior Executive Service if the Secretary determines their performance-now based on definitive metrics-warrants such a removal.

Additionally, this bill will initiate a program allowing veterans to have the option of receiving care through non-VA providers in certain circumstances. This will make it easier for veterans who live far from care centers, or who are unable to obtain an appointment.

The severe and deep-rooted problems at the VA required a complete overhaul. This legislation promises to implement changes that would be critical for introducing individual accountability to the VA, something that clearly has been absent for some time. I am happy and relieved to see these changes take place, and I will continue to support the push for full and immediate accountability by the VA leadership.

In other VA news, the Senate this Tuesday unanimously confirmed Robert McDonald by a vote of 97-0 to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He will replace Eric Shinseki, who resigned in May. McDonald is a former army officer who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he most recently served as the CEO of Procter & Gamble. McDonald has promised to take "immediate actions" in his first 90 days, and I am confident that his military service and business background will render him a success.

Very Truly Yours,

CONTACT INFORMATION
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