Today, Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) released the following statement after voting in support of H.R. 4810, The Veterans Access to Care Act, which passed the House by a vote of 426-0:
"Yesterday the Veterans Administration's own internal audit detailed the systemic problems within the VA that are preventing veterans in Michigan and around the country from receiving the care they deserve. Today the House took action to allow veterans to seek medical care outside of the broken VA system.
"Our goal first and foremost must be to ensure that the care of veterans is the VA's top priority. It is clear at this point and time, that is not the case. While the debate on how to reform the VA will surely continue, our ailing veterans cannot afford to wait. It is my hope Senate Majority Leader Reid will bring this overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to the floor for a vote immediately."
Details on the Veterans Access to Care Act:
Requires the VA, for two years after enactment, to offer a non-VA care authorization to any enrolled veteran who resides more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility, who has waited longer than the wait time goals established by the VA for a medical appointment, or who has been notified by the VA that an appointment is not available within the Department’s current wait-time goals
Requires the VA to utilize existing contracts to the greatest extent possible, ensure that the non-VA care authorization encompasses a complete episode of care, and to submit a quarterly report to Congress on the care provided under this authority
Requires the VA for two years after enactment, to reimburse non-VA providers at the greater of the following: the rate of reimbursement under VA, the rate of reimbursement under Medicare, or the rate of reimbursement under TRICARE
Requires the VA to enter into a contract with an independent entity or entities to conduct an assessment of the health care provided in VA medical facilities; report the findings and recommendations of the assessment to Congress; and, submit a report on the assessment, including an action plan and timeline for full implementation of the assessment’s recommendations, to Congress
Eliminates performance awards and bonuses for all VA employees for the next two years