Buchanan Backs VA Accountability Act
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today voted for bipartisan legislation to improve veterans’ health care by giving the Secretary of Veterans Affairs sweeping new authority to fire or demote any employee for incompetence or misconduct. The VA Accountability Act (H.R. 1994) also strengthens protections for whistleblowers who come forward to report negligence at VA facilities.
“Accountability must begin at the top,” said Buchanan, who wrote a guest column for the Washington Examiner detailing today’s vote. “Too often, the VA has failed to treat our nation’s veterans with the respect they deserve and provide them with the care they need. This legislation will help ensure that the individuals entrusted with their care are held to the highest standards of excellence and that there are consequences when they fail to meet those standards.”
Under current law, the Secretary is allowed to remove only a limited number of VA employees after a lengthy, bureaucratic process.
More than a year ago, it was revealed that employees at 110 VA facilities nationwide kept secret lists to conceal the amount of time veterans waited for medical care. Some veterans died while on these lists, resulting in the worst scandal in the VA’s history.
Since then, only three lower-level VA employees have been successfully fired for wait-time manipulation. In the meantime, not a single senior VA executive was terminated for the deception. Even though Congress approved emergency funding to improve veterans’ health care last year, the number of veterans waiting more than one month to receive care has increased by 50 percent. The Florida lawmaker noted with outrage that VA bureaucrats at facilities with some of the worst wait-times in the nation continue to receive their bonuses.
The VA Accountability Act has been endorsed by AMVETS, the American Legion, Concerned Veterans for America and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Throughout his tenure in Congress, Buchanan has supported and passed a number of measures aimed at helping veterans in Florida and across the nation.
Just last week, President Obama signed Buchanan’s Veterans Identification Card Act into law allowing all veterans in American to receive an ID card from the VA to prove their service.
Buchanan served six years in the Michigan Air National Guard and four years on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.