“We will not stop until every veteran out there is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Washington, D.C. – In a combined effort to ensure the nation’s more than 21 million veterans receive the quality care they deserve, today the House passed two important pieces of legislation aimed at improving the Department responsible for their care. With the support of Alaska Congressman Don Young, the House today sent H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act of 2015, and H.R. 3236, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act, to the Senate for consideration.
“The respect and admiration this nation shares for our military is unquestionable, but we must maintain this support long after these men and women return home and take off the uniform,” said Congressman Don Young. “We have a sacred commitment to our nation’s veterans and I will continue fighting to make sure our government upholds its end of the deal. By eliminating the VA’s own bureaucratic vulnerabilities, by fixing a major hole in the VA’s budget, by exempting our veterans from the President’s healthcare law, this Congress has made it clear that we will not stop until every veteran out there is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
H.R. 3236, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act, is a two part bill that addresses a combined effort in the House to extend negotiations on a long term highway transportation bill, and further improve services and care for our nation’s veterans.
A major provision within H.R. 3236 would fill a budgetary gap in the VA that would have forced the shutdown of veteran healthcare services across the nation and compounded the shortfalls already facing Alaska veterans. H.R. 3236 would authorize the transfer of $3.4 billion from the Veterans Choice Program to be used for the VA care in the community programs, often used by rural Alaska veterans, and other hospital related services and care.
Additionally, H.R. 3236 incorporates the Hire More Heroes Act, commonsense, bipartisan legislation that would allow employers to exclude employees already receiving healthcare coverage under TRICARE or the VA from counting against the employer mandate.
H.R. 1994, widely supported by veterans’ organizations across the nation, works to address the systemic failures at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) by ensuring all employees are held accountable for their actions. Since the wait-time manipulation scandal in Phoenix came to light, Congress has passed legislation to provide the authority to fire or demote Senior Executive employees. H.R. 1994 would expand that authority to include all VA employees.
The bill contains several provisions, including:
- Whistleblower protections;
- A cap on total bonuses to VA employees at $360 million each year through 2024;
- Reduced retirement annuities for VA Senior Executive employees convicted of a felony;
- A provision limiting the VA from placing employees under investigation for misconduct on administrative (paid) leave for more than 14 days in a year.
From the desk of Congressman Don Young
Submitted by Matthew Shuckerow