October Legislative Roundup

Below you’ll find a list of bills and important resources introduced in the U.S. Congress since our last Mission Critical News Report:

U.S. Senate

Bill No. – S. 1723

Title: Strengthening Veterans Health Care Act of 2017
Click Here for the Bill’s Text
Sponsor: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Cosponsors: There are no cosponsors

What would the bill do, if passed?

  • Allocate $5 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs specifically to hire more doctors. nurses, and other medical professionals

What’s the overall impact on veterans?

  • The VA has struggled with more than 30,000 vacancies over the last few years
  • By committing funds specifically to hire more staff, the agency would be able to address its highest priority — developing capacity to deliver timely and high-quality care to veterans and their families
  • This bill is supported by Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

Bill No. – S. 1881

Title: Prioritizing Veterans Access to Mental Health Care Act of 2017
Click Here for the Bill’s Text
Sponsor: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Cosponsors: John Cornyn (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Thom Tillis (R-NC)

What’s the overall impact on veterans?

Although stating it is “breaking down barriers to access” the bill doesn’t actually address any barriers to offered care. However, it does break down VA’s ability to manage utilization and control costs. In so doing, it would erode VA’s funding to provide care.

Private-sector mental health providers are often not trained to handle veterans’ complex issues.
Surveys report that private sector therapists do not use recognized best practices in treating veterans’ mental health problems.

U.S. House of Representatives

Bill No. – H.R. 3459

Title: VA Staffing and Vacancies Transparency Act of 2017
Click Here for the Bill’s Text
Sponsor: Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD-4)
Cosponsors: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4), Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA-10), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU-At Large), Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large), Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-GA-2), Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA-1), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY-26).

What would the bill do, if passed?

This bill would require the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to post the number of job vacancies at the VA and report to Congress on what steps the Department is taking to reach full staffing capacity.
It is estimated that 34,000 VA positions are currently vacant, with little push to fill them

What’s the overall impact on veterans?

  • This bill would help address the chronic understaffing across the Veterans Health Administration.
  • It would allow Members of Congress to be continually aware of the critical needs at the VA.
  • It would build capacity for VA to offer care, rather than have to send veterans out to the community where care is more expensive.

Bill No. – H.R. 3874

Title: Accountability for Quality VA Healthcare Act
Click Here for the Bill’s Text
Sponsor: Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6)
Cosponsors: Rep. James Renacci (R-OH-16), Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV-2), Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN-5), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), Rep. David Joyce (R-OH-14), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA-3), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA06), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1), Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY-4), Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-IL-10), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4), Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL-11), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-7), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT-At Large), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA-11), Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL-4), Rep. David Valadao (R-CA-21), Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY-6)

What would the bill do, if passed?

  • The bill directs the VA Secretary to make certain improvements relating to inspections of Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities and improving care for women.
  • The Secretary would also be forced to evaluate the organizational structure of the Veterans Health.

Other Resources: Is the VA Being Privatized?

Fighting for Veterans Healthcare has also posted on its website Suzanne Gordon’s document ‘How to Privatize the Veterans Health Administration – A Checklist.’


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