WASHINGTON, D.C. - A bipartisan VA reform to ensure veterans receive care from trusted doctors in their communities passed the U.S. Senate recently.
U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the amendment to protect veterans seeking care though VA community care programs, like the Choice Program, from being treated by doctors who have been fired or who are suspended from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The amendment, based on the Veterans Acquiring Community Care Expect Safe Services (ACCESS) Act, was included in a larger VA funding bill passed by a vote of 89-8.
“No matter where our veterans are receiving their care, we should do our best to ensure that they are receiving the best care possible,” said Senator Baldwin. “It’s commonsense that if a doctor is suspended or has been fired from the VA, they shouldn’t be able to serve veterans seeking care within their own communities, and certainly shouldn’t be doing so with taxpayer dollars. I’m proud to work across the aisle on this bipartisan reform to help ensure our veterans receive the quality health care they need, deserve and have earned.”
Currently, there is nothing explicitly in law or VA regulation that stops fired or suspended VA providers from participating in VA-administered community care programs. To close this dangerous loophole, the amendment requires the VA Secretary to deny or revoke the eligibility of a healthcare provider to participate in community programs if that provider was removed from employment with VA, violated his or her medical license, had a Department certification revoked, or broke the law.
In addition, the bipartisan reforms would ensure that when a provider is suspended from VA care, the provider is also suspended from non-VA care. The amendment would also give VA the ability under certain circumstances to deny, revoke, or suspend a provider’s eligibility if that action is necessary to immediately protect the health, safety, or welfare of veterans.