WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) continued her fight to ensure all veterans get the care they deserve and earned by supporting legislation that would expand veterans’ ability to seek care at non-VA (Veterans Administration) facilities under certain conditions, strengthen Congress’ oversight of the VA and eliminate performance-related bonuses for VA employees for the next two years.
“I’m proud to support this bipartisan step towards immediately addressing the overwhelmed VA and ensuring all veterans get the care they deserve and earned,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “Our veterans deserve nothing but the very best, and as we continue to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the crimes that may have been committed against our veterans, I’m committed to working with Democrats and Republicans on common sense solutions that help our veterans get the quality and timely care that we’ve promised to them.”
The Veterans Access to Care Act would require the VA for the next two years to offer non-VA care authorization to any veteran who waited longer than the VA’s established wait time goals for a medical appointment, who has been told an appointment is not available within the VA’s wait time goals or who resides more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility. It would also require the VA to receive an independent assessment of the quality of health care provided at its facilities and create an action plan and timeline to be reported to Congress to implement the assessment’s recommendations. Additionally, the legislation would eliminate performance bonuses for VA employees for the next two years.
Over the last several weeks, Bustos has called for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a full, system-wide Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into allegations of potential criminal activity by employees of the VA, sent a letter to the VA calling for a thorough and comprehensive nationwide audit of the VA and demanding full accountability of any and all VA employees found responsible and supported the bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, which would give the VA much greater latitude to fire VA executives who fail to perform.
At her request, she has also received ongoing personal briefings by the VA Administrators that serve Illinois’ 17th Congressional District and continues to monitor firsthand the local VA facilities across the region. She also hosted a veterans’ benefits workshop in Rock Island to help local veterans get answers to their questions and to learn about the many important resources local veterans’ organizations offer.