Washington, D.C.– Yesterday, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) helped pass a series of bills to improve medical services at the Department of Veterans Affairs, including emergency and mental health care. These measures will improve the quality of treatment veterans receive at the VA and provide prompt access to emergency services when veterans need it most.
“Our nation’s veterans shouldn’t have to jump over hurdles to receive quality and timely care,” said Rep. Peters. “Implementing data sharing and reporting requirements at the VA is just one way we can refocus the culture of care to ensure it serves the veteran, not the bureaucracy.”
The Vet Connect Act would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to share the medical records with other non-VA health care groups that provide medical treatment to veterans, including private entities and federal agencies. Currently, the VA is not allowed to share information with non-VA entities, even though veterans may seek care outside the VA system.
The No Veterans Crisis Line Should Go Unanswered Act would improve the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) by collecting data, including performance indicators and time frames to meet those objectives, to improve the effectiveness of the crisis hotline. The bill requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a plan to ensure all calls are answered in a timely manner. The VA would be required to report the performance metric to Congress within 180 days of enactment.
The Veterans Emergency Treatment (VET) Act would require all VA hospitals to comply with the Emergency Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) of 1986, which says that any veteran who comes to a hospital’s emergency room and is enrolled in the VA health care system, must be stabilized and treated. While a 2007 Veterans Health Administration directive ensures veteran access to emergency care and VA adherence to EMTALA standards, this bill would further codify that requirement.
“These bills are another step forward in keeping our promise to veterans and getting them the benefits they earned though their service,” said Rep. Peters. “The reforms improve veteran care and cut through red tape so we can better serve our nation’s heroes.”
Last month, Rep. Peters helped pass another package of reforms to improve quality of care at the VA by holding poor performing or negligent VA employees accountable for their actions and increasing protections for whistleblowers that identify negligent or criminal behavior in a VA facility.