Congressman Charlie Dent is pleased that the House took up and passed, by large bipartisan margins, three bills geared at overhauling the troubled Veterans Administration (VA) Healthcare system.
H.R. 2072 (Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act of 2014) requires the Inspector General of the VA to notify Congress if or when the VA fails to adequately respond to an Inspector General’s report and mandates remedial action.
H.R. 4031 (Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014) allows the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the latitude to remove high-level bureaucrats in the Department for poor performance of their duties.
H.R. 4810 (Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014) requires the VA to offer care outside the VA network to veterans who would have to wait for greater than 14 days to receive care or who live more than 40 miles from a medical facility.
“The passage of these bills lays the foundation for additional necessary reforms,” said Dent. “These bills begin to fix what is wrong with the VA, but more needs to be done” he added.
Dent conducted a telephone townhall discussion with residents of the 15th District Wednesday evening. “People, whether they’re veterans or not, are greatly concerned and upset about this issue,” noted the Congressman. “During the call, I asked if the participants thought that veterans should be allowed to go outside the VA to receive medical care. Nearly 300 people responded and 95 percent of them – 95 percent – said ‘yes.’”
Dent is a proponent of better integrating the veterans and civilian healthcare systems and allowing veterans to access care outside of the VA system. “It’s just a logical decision,” he said. “Perhaps the greatest federal policy ever enacted for veterans was the GI Bill that allowed them to get post-secondary education,” Dent observed. “Did the government open a series of colleges and universities across the country that only educated veterans? No. The civilian higher educational infrastructure had enough capacity to educate our returning veterans. Veterans were allowed to attend whatever public or private school they wanted. It worked. We should utilize the existing civilian medical infrastructure in a similar manner, today. Let’s give veterans more access to the best doctors and hospitals right in their local communities,” concluded Congressman Dent.
Dent also announced that he had set up a special e-mail address that veterans or their family members could use to send him their experiences with the VA. “If you want to share your experience or a family member’s experience with the VA, good or bad, please send it to me at PA15VAStories@mail.house.gov. I’d very much like to hear more from those who have experienced dealing with the system.”