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house Bill H.R. 3234

Does the VA Need Teams Focused on Improving Failing Medical Centers?

Argument in favor

There’s an urgent need for reforms within the VA, and veterans who need health care can’t wait for the bureaucracy to fix itself. Allowing teams of top managers and medical professionals to take control of failing VA medical centers will improve the quality of care that veterans receive.

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02/10/2016
"[I dream of a country] where every veteran who defends this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and receives the respect they deserve.” [politico.com]
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DonaldTrump's Opinion
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02/10/2016
"The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is absolutely unacceptable. Over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care. Corruption and incompetence were excused. Politicians in Washington have done too little too slowly to fix it." [donaldjtrump.com]
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BarackObama's Opinion
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02/10/2016
“I’m still not satisfied… We are not going to let up. We’re going to keep fighting for the resources you need.” [washingtontimes.com]
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Argument opposed

The rules that govern hiring and firing at federal bureaucracies like the VA are there for a reason, and they shouldn’t be circumvented even when trying to improve the performance of failing medical centers. A lack of resources at the VA is a bigger problem than the personnel running certain medical centers.

John's Opinion
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02/10/2016
The VA needs to have to compete with private hospitals. Give the vets medical insurance they an use anywhere.
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Loraki's Opinion
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08/30/2016
Countable's Summary says, "This bill would establish an Office of Failing Medical Center Recovery headed by an Under Secretary within the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (#VA). The Office would assume managerial and day-to-day operational control of each failing VA medical center, deploying teams of medical professionals to take charge of and improve standards at failing centers. These teams would have unique legal tools at their disposal, including direct hiring, enhanced personnel accountability, and simplified contracting authorities." This means creating MORE BUREAUCRACY, in hopes that they'll perform better than the bureaucracy we already have in place! How about starting by "cleaning house" (firing the managers) at ALL of the failing VA Medical Centers?! In the meantime, let our veterans go to GOOD medical centers to get the care they need! Let's see some ACCOUNTABILITY for the mess that is the VA! Heads should roll (metaphorically speaking)! And be SURE that protections are in place for whistleblowers!
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Jorge's Opinion
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08/30/2016
You do not fix bureaucracy with more bureaucracy. Fix the problems at the top not throw a bandaid on it.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3234?

This bill would establish an Office of Failing Medical Center Recovery headed by an Under Secretary within the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Office would assume managerial and day-to-day operational control of each failing VA medical center, deploying teams of medical professionals to take charge of and improve standards at failing centers. These teams would have unique legal tools at their disposal, including direct hiring, enhanced personnel accountability, and simplified contracting authorities.

The VA would be directed to:

  • Publish a compilation of key health metrics for each VA medical center in the Federal Register and on a publicly available VA website;

  • Certify twice per year that each failing VA medical center is under the control of the Office;

  • Revoke the “failing” classification of a VA medical center if it achieves a ranking of “satisfactory” or better for three consecutive fiscal quarters;

  • Submit to Congress a quarterly report on the Office, including actions taken by the Under Secretary regarding covered failing medical centers;

  • Transfer each failing medical center from the control of the relevant Veterans Integrated Service Network to the direct control of the Under Secretary.

The Inspector General of the VA would prioritize investigations related to failing medical centers, and the Office of Accountability Review would prioritize whistleblower investigations from those centers.

Employees of the Office would be included in the VA education tuition reimbursement program.

Impact

Veterans who receive care at failing VA medical centers, the medical professionals and managers who compose the takeover teams, and the VA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3234

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) introduced this legislation to enable the VA to send teams of medical professionals to take charge of failing medical centers and improve the quality of health care received by veterans:

“The determination of a failing medical center will be based on data, not the Secretary’s whim or what media attention it is garnering. My bill sets up an automatic trigger that compels the VA to act under the law.

I’m glad the Secretary used his authority to take control of the situation in Phoenix. But, why not Montgomery? Why not Tuskegee? Why not come and take control of the worst and second worst situation in the country, especially after we have repeatedly asked and pleaded him to do so?

I’m tired of asking, and that’s why my bill requires the VA to step in and take charge.”


Of Note: Early in 2014, the VA Health Administration scandal became widely publicized after it was revealed that 35 veterans had died waiting to receive care from VA healthcare facilities.

A VA audit conducted after the scandal came to light found that over 120,000 veterans were on the waiting lists or never received medical care. The audit cited demand in excess of capacity as a contributing factor in the crisis, which led to VA officials using unofficial waiting lists to make wait times appear shorter — a practice that was rewarded with bonuses.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user tedeytan)

AKA

VA Medical Center Recovery Act

Official Title

To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to evaluate the ability of each medical center of the Department to provide quality health care to veterans, to ensure that the Secretary improves such medical centers that are underperforming, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house Passed February 9th, 2016
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Health
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedJuly 28th, 2015

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    "[I dream of a country] where every veteran who defends this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and receives the respect they deserve.” [politico.com]
    Like (158)
    Follow
    Share
    The VA needs to have to compete with private hospitals. Give the vets medical insurance they an use anywhere.
    Like (9)
    Follow
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    "The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is absolutely unacceptable. Over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care. Corruption and incompetence were excused. Politicians in Washington have done too little too slowly to fix it." [donaldjtrump.com]
    Like (100)
    Follow
    Share
    “I’m still not satisfied… We are not going to let up. We’re going to keep fighting for the resources you need.” [washingtontimes.com]
    Like (25)
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    Keep the promise.
    Like (6)
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    The VA needs a complete overhaul to become efficient again. The VA needs to get rid of decrepit systems, outdated methodologies & antiquated computers that offer no benefit & cannot adequately support our veterans & their families. Veterans gave their minds, bodies, time & in some instances their lives; it's time we gave them more than a raw deal.
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    Countable's Summary says, "This bill would establish an Office of Failing Medical Center Recovery headed by an Under Secretary within the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (#VA). The Office would assume managerial and day-to-day operational control of each failing VA medical center, deploying teams of medical professionals to take charge of and improve standards at failing centers. These teams would have unique legal tools at their disposal, including direct hiring, enhanced personnel accountability, and simplified contracting authorities." This means creating MORE BUREAUCRACY, in hopes that they'll perform better than the bureaucracy we already have in place! How about starting by "cleaning house" (firing the managers) at ALL of the failing VA Medical Centers?! In the meantime, let our veterans go to GOOD medical centers to get the care they need! Let's see some ACCOUNTABILITY for the mess that is the VA! Heads should roll (metaphorically speaking)! And be SURE that protections are in place for whistleblowers!
    Like (4)
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    This bill paired with H.R. 3106 (which reforms construction of new VA hospitals) will begin the turnaround of the VA. I'm not usually for such aggressive oversight but we need to begin to treat our veterans with the respect that they deserve and unfortunately the VA has show it's not equipped for the job just yet.
    Like (3)
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    Too many vets are dying outside of war
    Like (2)
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    You do not fix bureaucracy with more bureaucracy. Fix the problems at the top not throw a bandaid on it.
    Like (2)
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    Close the VA- provide vouchers so vets can get care anywhere!
    Like (2)
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    Trump will fix this. We have enough government.
    Like (2)
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    Professionals who have proven records for increasing efficiency should help fix this embarrassing problem.
    Like (1)
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    Fire "leadership" of the failing hospitals, and replace them with proven performers.
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    They have plenty of employees, what they need is leadership!
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    The VA needs to get their act together. Perhaps letting them go to private will spur the government to get their ass moving faster. Nothing moves slower than the government not even a slug just my opinion. Just my opinion
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    The current VA system is not functioning and should at least pretend to care for our nations veterans.
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    Not just vets! But yes
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    I want Trump!
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    Look at all the concern during an election year. I am really leaning towards closing the VA and using the money to fund access through local facilities the vets choose. Issue a "VA card" and get the politicians out of managing it. Imagine what would happen if UPS an FedEx took over the USPS.
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