Pa.'s two senators support Senate's VA reform package
Ben Allen | 06.12.14
The U.S. Senate has passed a proposal to give some veterans the opportunity to seek care outside the VA, while also building new VA facilities.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars group is on board. Pennsylvania's senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Bob Casey, voted in favor of the measure, as did Republican Pat Toomey, who is co-sponsoring the bill.
The deal was reached by two senators: Vermont independent Bernie Sanders and Arizona Republican John McCain, also allows the V-A Secretary to immediately fire employees.
Action on Capitol Hill comes after revelations of veterans dying waiting for care in some cities, unofficial waiting lists, and red tape.
"The only thing we ever asked for was what [Congress] promised us. Nothing more, nothing less. When we went in the service, they promised us many, many things. And they never live up to it, they just keep cutting us. Basically, I think that's what happened here." says John Getz, adjutant general at Pennsylvania Chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Getz says he doesn't understand why its taken a crisis for action, noting he goes to the Capitol twice a year to educate and lobby legislators about veteran's issues.
"It's not at every facility, but then again, maybe my experiences and maybe somebody else's experience at Lebanon are different. I wouldn't know why they would be, because everything I see, a lot of people I talk to that are dealing with Lebanon, they seem like they get very good care."
Senator Casey's statement:
"I'm pleased that Senator Sanders and Senator McCain were able to work out a compromise that will work to provide our veterans with the care and services they deserve. I support this bipartisan legislation that will create more accountability in the VA health system, hire more doctors and nurses and provide resources for veterans and their spouses to attain a quality education."
Senator Toomey's statement:
“The men and women who served in uniform should be first in line for the best quality medical care in the world.
“Many today are not, and Congress needs to work together to tackle this serious problem and restore accountability at the VA. Our veterans deserve solutions, not more partisanship in Washington.
“I have said repeatedly that the VA secretary should be able to fire employees whose job performance is unsatisfactory. I also have long held that vets should have the option to obtain care from a private-sector health care provider. While this bill is not perfect, I appreciate that these two reforms have been included and am pleased to join Senators Sanders and McCain. I hope my Senate colleagues pass this bipartisan measure as soon as possible.”
Published in Healthcare Transformation