Bipartisan bill to hold bad actors at the VA accountable, prohibit bonuses for poor performers and protect whistleblowers
Apr 28 2016
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today praised the introduction of the Veterans First Act – comprehensive legislation that includes numerous provisions to improve services for our nation's veterans. The bill would demand a higher level of accountability from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) 335,000 employees in the wake of scandals that have plagued the VA. It would also give VA leadership tools to fire bad actors, prohibit bonuses for employees accused of wrongdoing, and institute protections for whistleblowers.
“I’m honored to serve veterans in Kansas and across the country as a member of this committee, and am pleased there are commonsense ideas included in this legislation to benefit those who served our nation,” Sen. Moran said. “One provision I’m particularly proud to see included is related to toxic exposure. Many veterans have experienced significant medical challenges related to their exposure to toxic substances, and unfortunately those same symptoms are showing up in their children and grandchildren who shouldn’t have to pay a price for the service of their parents and grandparents.”
Sen. Moran added, “The Veterans First Act also includes a number of fixes for the Choice Act – which despite its poor implementation by the VA – is a great opportunity for veterans, especially veterans who live in rural America. But, an equally important aspect is holding the VA accountable, and accountability is front and center in this legislation. Those who violate the trust of those who serve our country should suffer a consequence for that behavior.”
The Veterans First Act also includes numerous provisions to improve services for our nation’s veterans, including expanding a VA program that allows seriously-injured veterans to receive care in their own homes, enhancing programs for veterans’ mental health care, and beginning to address the VA’s massive backlog of veteran disability claims appeals.
Notable provisions stemming from legislation led by Sen. Moran include:
- Creates a mechanism for research on the potential health effects from toxic exposure to veterans and their descendants;
- Changes the culture at the VA by improving accountability to make it easier for the VA Secretary to remove bad actors, especially at the highest levels, of the department;
- Develop protections for whistleblowers and strengthen methods evaluating the performance of supervisory employees;
- Increases access to chiropractic care services for veterans at VA medical centers in each Veterans Integrated Service Network;
- Strengthens the Veterans Choice program by establishing prompt payment standards and streamlining the requirements for community medical providers to enter into agreements with the VA;
- Addresses the crisis of opioid over-prescription among veterans;
- Improves the disability claims and appeals process by requiring the VA to launch a pilot program that will cut down the massive backlog of appeals awaiting action.