Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos released the following statement after the President signed into law bipartisan legislation to make needed reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that will help ensure our veterans get the care they have earned and deserve. Today’s signing comes after Bustos led a group of 116 lawmakers last month urging Congress to stay in session until action was taken on the VA reform bill.
“Today’s signing into law of bipartisan reforms to the VA system is a step in the right direction and will help ensure our brave veterans have access to the timely and quality care they have earned and deserve. The care of our veterans who have served us must be a national priority and I will remain relentless in my fight on behalf of our region’s veterans as investigations into the VA continue.”
The Veterans Access, Choice & Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230) was endorsed by a wide range of veterans’ organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Disabled Veterans of America, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Wounded Warrior Project and VetsFirst.
The legislation will make needed reforms to the VA system, including:
- Addressing the shortage of health professionals in the VA by providing resources to hire more primary and specialty care physicians and other medical staff.
- Expanding access to education for veterans and their families by allowing veterans who are eligible for education benefits to qualify for in-state tuition.
- Expanding access to health care for veterans by expanding access to non-VA health care options for veterans who have been left waiting for more than 30 days for an appointment or live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility.
- Expanding the VA’s authority to provide counseling, care and other services to veterans and certain other non-veteran servicemembers who have experienced military sexual trauma during active or inactive duty training.
- Providing resources for leases for new VA clinics.
- Extending a VA program that was about to expire that allows veterans struggling with Traumatic Brain Injury to live in community-based, rehabilitative housing.
- Increasing accountability by giving the VA Secretary the authority to immediately fire or demote senior executives based on poor job performance or misconduct and giving whistleblowers greater protections.