Johanns Encouraged by Bipartisan Effort to Improve Veterans' Access to Medical Care
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today said he was encouraged by a bipartisan agreement between Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to improve transparency and accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The framework being discussed includes provisions similar to legislation Johanns supported allowing veterans to receive medical care outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system to avoid long waits and long commutes.
“Despite considerable gridlock in Congress, keeping our promise to our veterans is one thing we should all agree on,” Johanns said. “Our military heroes volunteered to risk everything for our country, and we need to fulfill our promise that we are forever committed to their care. This framework should provide relief and improved flexibility for veterans who are currently struggling to access care. I look forward to reviewing the final text as soon as it is available.”
Provisions being discussed in the framework include:
· Allowing veterans whose wait times for VA appointments exceed two weeks, or who reside more than 40 miles from a VA medical center or clinic, to seek non-VA medical care,
· Granting the VA Secretary authority to demote or fire Senior Executive Service employees for substandard performance,
· Expediting authority to hire more VA doctors and nurses using unobligated VA funds,
· Improving health care access for military sexual assault survivors, and
· Installing task forces to review and recommend improvements to VA scheduling processes.