Coronado Patch – Rep. Peters' Actions Spur Passage of Bill to Improve VA
A motion passed by Rep. Scott Peters last week to increase access to health care for veterans and to hold the VA’s feet to the fire apparently led to a house majority vote in favor of the measure Wednesday, July 30.
Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) released the following statement after voting in favor of the bipartisan legislation to increase access to health care services for veterans and improve accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which passed on a 420-5 vote:
“This is a rare point of true bipartisanship that will bring needed relief to our veterans and begin to address the failures at the VA,” Peters said.
“But this will not be the last piece to solving the puzzle – it will take a concerted effort and constant oversight to root out the culture of complacency and ineptitude that has left too many of our veterans in the dark.”
Peters spoke on the House floor Wednesday in support of the bill during the debate. To see his floor speech from this afternoon, click HERE.
“We have long said that taking care of our nation’s veterans is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American one,” said Rep. Mike Michaud (ME-02), Ranking Member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I’d like to thank Rep. Peters for his commitment to getting this important legislation through the House.
“His commitment to reaching out to colleagues on both sides of the aisle to act on this important matter is exactly the kind of bipartisanship that we need as we begin the task ahead of us: truly reforming the VA and ensuring the Department is one designed to put the needs and well-being of veterans above all else.”
Congressman Peters recently spoke out for a bipartisan solution to the crisis at the VA, when he led the “motion to instruct” House leadership to stop the bickering and agree with the Senate version of the VA bill, including on in-state tuition for veterans among other things. Although the motion lost narrowly, 205-207, DC press has credited Peters’ motion as the catalyst for the final bipartisan agreement.
Specific provisions included in the deal:
· Increased access to health care
o Allows the VA to lease more facilities
o Immediately hire doctors and nurses to fill pressing staff shortages
o Allows veterans to see non-VA providers if they have been forced to wait for an appointment or live too far from a VA facility
· Improved accountability at the VA
o Independent assessment of care and services at VA facilities
o Allows the VA secretary to fire incompetent senior administrators
o Requires a specific plan to improve VA scheduling software
· Expands counseling care and services to victims of military sexual trauma
· Requires that veterans be able to access in-state tuition rates at public higher-education facilities regardless of their residency
· Extends the VA’s Assisted Living Pilot Program for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) until 2017