Working Across the Aisle on Behalf of Veterans

Over the last couple weeks, the House of Representatives has responded forcefully to the revelations out of the Phoenix Department of Veterans Affairs about officials using secret wait lists to delay veterans’ access to care. I will continue to investigate this wrongdoing and support legislation to make fundamental changes to the way we care for veterans in this country.

On Wednesday, I was selected by my colleagues and VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) to be a member of the conference committee between the House and Senate, which will be in charge of resolving the differences between our two versions of the legislation. The House-passed version of the bill would require the VA to offer veterans the option to seek care in the private sector—at the expense of the VA—if he or she lives more than 40 miles from a VA facility, or if they cannot get an appointment within the wait time goals. The bill is paid for, in part, by banning bonuses for all VA employees from FY 2014-2016, and would require an independent assessment from the Veterans Health Administration to suggest improvements to the existing system. The Senate version of this bill is based on the same core principle of providing immediate relief to veterans while also beginning the process of permanent changes to the VA health system.

As a conferee, I will work to send a bipartisan bill to the president that ensures our veterans are treated with dignity and respect. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue serving veterans in the First District and around the country, and I’m working hard to find real solutions for the brave men and women that have honorably served our country.

To further aid veterans in making health care decisions, I introduced legislation on Tuesday with Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA). Our bill, the Equalizing Transparency for Veterans Act, would allow veterans to compare the quality of VA hospitals, community-based outpatient clinics and nursing facilities in the same way seniors do now under Medicare. Currently, the VA’s comparison website only offers limited data to veterans, potentially making it more difficult for veterans and their families to find information about health facilities and whether or not the facility can meet their needs.

As I’ve said before, it is clear that Congress has a lot of work to do to improve veterans’ health care. Transparency is a key component to successfully reforming the way our nation cares for veterans, and I strongly believe that one step in the right direction is to arm veterans with this important information.

I welcome the opportunity to make meaningful reforms to the VA health care system and I look forward to working in a bipartisan, bicameral way to find solutions. As always, it is a great honor to serve the First District of Tennessee.

Feel free to contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family. Our contact information can be found on our website, www.roe.house.gov.

Source: Communication from U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D., 1st District of Tennessee

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