06.04.14

Leahy Introduces Transparency In Cost Of Veterans Care Act

. . . Bill Would Reduce Waste And Improve Veterans’ Access To Convenient Care When VA Facilities Are Off Line For Renovations

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday introduced legislation to close what he said is a wasteful loophole in Veterans Administration’ (VA) construction project accounting.  He said his bill would save tax dollars and improve veterans’ access to convenient health care when VA facilities are closed for renovation or expansion.  

Speaking Wednesday on the Senate Floor, Leahy said, “As various techniques for gaming the system used by too many VA employees have come to light, one truth is acknowledged again and again:  There can be no shortcuts to quality care for veterans.”

Under the current law, the VA must report any major medical facility costs exceeding $10 million to Congress.  To avoid this in instances of renovation or refurbishing, many officials move veterans’ care to outside facilities and absorb the additional transportation costs out of a separate VA account, which is intended for medical services for veterans.  This can often be more costly over the long run and create longer wait times at other facilities.

The Transparency in Cost of Veterans Care Act removes the incentive of this shortcut by ensuring that the expenses of temporary off-site care for veterans are also calculated and reported.  This would allow the VA to make the best decisions for veterans’ health services based on the true costs of alternatives, and leave the separate account for its true purpose of providing medical services to veterans.

“Current law provides a disincentive to cost-effective, on-site medical care solutions when operating rooms are refurbished or rebuilt within a VA hospital or care facility,”  said Leahy.  “But the best solution for veterans and the bottom line may well be a temporary on-site facility or short-term repurposing.  This would ensure that the funds in the Medical Services Account are truly used for medical services for veterans.”

The Transparency In Cost of Veterans Care Act will close that wasteful loophole and allow the lease or purchase of temporary or mobile medical facilities to expedite care for veterans and keep that care local.

LINK TO BILL: http://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/bag14450

LINK TO ONE-PAGER: http://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/transparencyincostofveteranscareact

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