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Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham

Representing the 1st District of New Mexico

Rep. Lujan Grisham Introduces Legislation to Overhaul the Worst VA Hospitals and Expedite VA Services and Benefits for Wounded Warriors

Jan 11, 2018
Press Release

 

For Immediate Release: January 9, 2018

Rep. Lujan Grisham Introduces Legislation to Overhaul the Worst VA Hospitals and Expedite VA Services and Benefits for Wounded Warriors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced the Fixing VHA Facilities Act (H.R.4728) and the Improving Access to VA Care Act (H.R.4727) to ensure veterans receive the high-quality health care and services that they deserve.         

The Fixing VHA Facilities Act assigns an independent federal health monitor to VA’s worst and lowest-performing medical centers, which would include the New Mexico VA Health Care System (NMVAHCS).  NMVAHCS received two out of a possible 5 stars in the VA’s own end-of-year relative performance star rating.

“We have been working through the VA system for years with countless veterans, their loved ones, and whistleblowers on a range of issues.  Although we have had some successes, it is clear that culture change is still needed and systemic issues within NMVAHCS continue to go unresolved, which has jeopardized veteran health and well-being.  We need a national strategy to fix these issues, and my legislation would increase independent oversight and accountability at failing VA Hospitals, not only in New Mexico but across the country.  Every veteran deserves—and has earned—the best possible health care and services.”

The Improving Access to VA Care Act ensures that veterans won’t have to wait months or years before receiving treatment or benefits for their service-connected disability claims.  Instead of waiting, veterans will be automatically eligible for services while their claim is considered.

“I continue to see veterans suffering for months, or even years, while their disability claims are reviewed by a slow-moving bureaucratic process.  These delays hurt the health and well-being of wounded veterans who bravely served and sacrificed for our nation.  Life-saving medical treatment and benefits cannot be postponed while paperwork gets shuffled around for months.”

Highlights of the Fixing VHA Facilities Act

  • The Fixing VHA Facilities Act provides independent accountability and oversight for low scoring VA medical facilities. This bill assigns an independent federal health monitor to all medical facilities that receive fewer than three stars in the VA’s end-of-year relative performance star ratings.
  • The Health Monitor must have experience in federal oversight, health care administration, health care delivery and/or patient advocacy and will review the underperforming medical facility through investigations and audits, develop a plan to improve the facility and provide oversight of all recommended changes.
  • The Health Monitor shall submit a report to Congress regarding the extent to which the facility implemented the improvement plan and any change in the performance of the medical facility.

Highlights of the Improving Access to VA Care Act

  • Veterans sometimes wait years for access to VA medical services and disability compensation while their disability rating from the Veterans Benefits Administration is pending. This wait time often undermines the health and economic stability of affected veterans.  This bill ensures veterans have access to the medical care and compensation they need while waiting for a formal disability rating.
  • Once a veteran’s disability rating is finalized the veteran will be enrolled for the proper care and compensation according to his/her disability rating.
  • In the case where the VA determines the veteran does not have a service-connected disability and does not qualify for VA medical services, the VA must ensure continuity of care by assisting the veteran to find non-VA medical services.
  • If a veteran no longer qualifies for care, they are not responsible for the costs of hospital care and medical services that they received.

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