May 23, 2016 By admin
Today the House passed eight veterans related bills, including:
H.R. 3956, the VA Health Center Management Stability and Improvement Act, as amended, would direct the VA to develop and implement a plan to hire a director for each VA medical center without a permanent director, prioritize hiring for facilities that have been without permanent leadership for the longest times, certify compliance with scheduling policy, and ensure that directives and policies apply to each VA office or facility in a uniform manner.
H.R. 3715, the Final Farewell Act of 2016, as amended, would require VA to permit the interment or funeral, memorial service, or ceremony of a deceased veteran at a national cemetery during weekends, other than federal holiday weekends, upon the request of the veteran’s next-of-kin.
H.R. 3989, the Support our Military Caregivers Act, as amended, would allow a veteran or caregiver of a veteran to elect to have an independent contractor perform an external clinical review of their caregiving arrangement through the Family Caregiver Program. It would also require VA to produce a directive for the Family Caregiver Program and require GAO to study the Family Caregiver Program.
H.R. 2460 would direct VA to enter into an agreement or a contract with state veterans homes (SVHs) to pay for adult day health care for a veteran eligible for, but not receiving, nursing home care.
H.R. 5229, the Improving Transition Programs for All Veterans Act, as amended, would require VA to research and report to Congress how the Transition Assistance Program addresses differentiated needs of groups of minority veterans, including women veterans, disabled veterans, Native American veterans, veterans who are residents of a U.S. territory, veterans who are part of the indigenous population of a U.S. territory, and other minority groups.
These bills now await consideration by the Senate. Following House passage of the bills, Chairman Miller released the below statement.
“Today the House took noteworthy steps to improve the welfare of our nation’s veterans and reform VA into an organization truly worthy of the veterans it is charged with serving. These bills will help aid our veterans throughout their lives by improving their transition from active duty to civilian life, providing adult day health care for eligible veterans and holding VA to higher standards of care. I applaud my colleagues in the House for stepping up to pass these important measures, and I call on the Senate to act on them without delay.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
May 23, 2016 By admin
Today, Chairman Miller released the following statement regarding VA Secretary Bob McDonald’s comparison of Department of Veterans Affairs wait times to those at a Disney theme park.
“There is nothing amusing about VA’s performance over the past few years, and comparing VA wait times to those of an amusement park is just plain wrong. Wait times are of critical importance to the veterans waiting for VA medical care and they should be to Sec. Bob McDonald as well. In fact, the VA scandal over fraudulent wait times – in which department officials cooked the books in order to make excessive waits for medical care appear shorter – is precisely why McDonald is now VA secretary. Unfortunately, nearly two years after McDonald took over at VA, the department’s wait-time rhetoric doesn’t match up with the reality of veterans’ experiences. But given the fact that VA has successfully fired only a handful of employees for wait-time manipulation while letting the bulk of those behind its nationwide delays-in-care scandal off with no discipline or weak slaps on the wrist, I am not at all surprised these problems persist. And until the department takes steps to remove all who caused VA’s wait-time manipulation problems from the payroll, efforts to reform the agency will never succeed. In the meantime, attempts among department officials to downplay the significance of wait times for VA medical care will only further erode the trust of the veterans the department is charged with serving.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Government Accountability Office
April 19, 2016
May 19, 2016 By admin
Today Chairman Miller introduced H.R. 5286, the VA Construction and Lease Authorization, Health, and Benefits Enhancement Act.
The bill would improve Department of Veterans Affairs health care and benefits in a variety of ways, including:
After introducing the bill, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“When it comes to reforming VA into an organization truly worthy of the veterans it is charged with serving, there is still much more work to be done. But H.R. 5286 brings us closer to this goal in a number of different ways, whether it’s ensuring VA has skin in the game when it comes to paying its bills on time, streamlining the department’s process for partnering with private-sector health care providers or fairly compensating some of our most severely injured veterans. I am proud of the work that went into this bill and hopeful we can send it to the Senate in short order.”– Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Read the text of the bill here.
May 16, 2016 By admin
Legislative Hearing on draft legislation to establish a permanent Veterans Choice Program and H.R. 5083, the VA Appeals Modernization Act of 2016 http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-on-draft-legislation-to-establish-a-permanent-veterans-choice-program
May 13, 2016 By admin
Denver Field Hearing http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/denver-field-hearing
May 11, 2016 By admin
Markup of Pending Legislation http://veterans.house.gov/markup/markup-of-pending-legislation-26
May 10, 2016 By admin
Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4063, the Jason Simcakoski Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific Expertise (PROMISE) Act.
The bill would improve Department of Veterans Affairs opioid safety measures by directing all department hospitals to designate pain management teams, ensuring employees that prescribe opioid drugs receive proper training in pain management and safe opioid prescribing practices, and standardizing safe opioid utilization and tracking practices across the system. The bill also increases accountability by requiring the directors of each VA hospital to certify employees have received the proper training in prescribing opioids. Finally, recognizing the need to ensure safe transition between the Department of Defense and VA, the bill requires an update of joint VA/DoD clinical practice guidelines.
The PROMISE Act is named in honor of Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski, who died of mixed drug toxicitywhile he was an inpatient at the Tomah, Wis., VA Medical Center. A VA investigation found that hospital staff improperly prescribed his medications.
H.R. 4063 now awaits consideration by the Senate. Following House passage of the bill, Chairman Miller released the below statement.
“A bag of pills is simply not a solution to a veteran’s health care needs. That’s why we must act to reduce VA’s reliance on prescription painkillers and ensure that in instances they are prescribed, VA is doing so safely. Veterans and families shouldn’t have to suffer like Jason Simcakoski and his loved ones have, and if the PROMISE Act becomes law, it will help ensure they won’t.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
May 4, 2016 By admin
Veterans in Tech: Innovative Careers for All Generations of Veterans http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/veterans-in-tech-innovative-careers-for-all-generations-of-veterans
May 3, 2016 By admin
“Combating the Crisis: Evaluating Efforts to Prevent Veteran Suicide http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/combating-the-crisis-evaluating-efforts-to-prevent-veteran-suicide
April 28, 2016 By admin
Following reports of a deal in the Senate regarding an omnibus package of veterans legislation, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“News of this deal is a positive development. If what Sens. Isakson and Blumenthal are working on passes the Senate, I look forward to immediately engaging in conference committee negotiations in order to move a VA reform package to the president’s desk.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
April 20, 2016 By admin
Following the Senate’s confirmation of Michael Missal to head the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Chairman Miller released the below statement:
“I’m glad that after a six-month wait the Senate has finally confirmed a permanent Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general. Now it’s time for Senators to focus on the 21 veterans-related bills that have passed the House and are now gathering dust in the Senate. These bills include vital measures that would address the department’s accountability crisis, help reduce veteran suicides and improve mental health care for those who have worn the uniform. It’s well past time for the Senate to give these important bills full and fair consideration.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
House-Passed Veterans Bills That The Senate is Dithering Over
1. H.R.3234 VA Medical Center Recovery Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to evaluate the ability of each medical center of the Department to provide quality health care to veterans, to ensure that the Secretary improves such medical centers that are underperforming, and for other purposes.
2. H.R.3106 Construction Reform Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the administration of Department medical facility construction projects.
3. H.R.3016 Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement: To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to health care, educational assistance, and vocational rehabilitation, to establish the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration, and for other purposes.
4. H.R.2915 Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to identify mental health care and suicide prevention programs and metrics that are effective in treating women veterans as part of the evaluation of such programs by the Secretary, and for other purposes.
5. H.R.2814 To name the Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic in Sevierville, Tennessee, the Dannie A. Carr Veterans Outpatient Clinic
6. H.R.2360 Career-Ready Student Veterans Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the approval of certain programs of education for purposes of educational assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
7. H.R.2256 Veterans Information Modernization Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit an annual report on the Veterans Health Administration, to provide for the identification and tracking of biological implants used in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, and for other purposes.
8. H.R.1994 VA Accountability Act of 2015: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct, and for other purposes.
9. H.R.1607 Ruth Moore Act of 2015: To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the disability compensation evaluation procedure of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for veterans with mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma, and for other purposes.
10. H.R.1384 Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to recognize the service in the reserve components of certain persons by honoring them with status as veterans under law.
11. H.R.1382 BRAVE Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in awarding a contract for the procurement of goods or services, to give a preference to offerors that employ veterans.
12. H.R.1338 Dignified Interment of Our Veterans Act of 2015: To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study on matters relating to the burial of unclaimed remains of veterans in national cemeteries, and for other purposes.
13. H.R.1313 Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Relief Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance the treatment of certain small business concerns for purposes of Department of Veterans Affairs contracting goals and preferences.
14. H.R.1038 Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to retain a copy of any reprimand or admonishment received by an employee of the Department in the permanent record of the employee.
15. H.R.677 American Heroes COLA Act of 2015: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments to be made automatically by law each year in the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans, and for other purposes.
16. H.R.675 Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015: To increase, effective as of December 1, 2015, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans, to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, to improve the processing of claims by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
17. H.R.474 Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act of 2015: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a five-year extension to the homeless veterans reintegration programs and to provide clarification regarding eligibility for services under such programs.
18. H.R.294 Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts and agreements for the placement of veterans in non-Department medical foster homes for certain veterans who are unable to live independently.
19. H.R.280 To authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to recoup bonuses and awards paid to employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs: To authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to recoup bonuses and awards paid to employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
20. H.R.216 Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 2015: To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress a Future-Years Veterans Program and a quadrennial veterans review, to establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a Chief Strategy Officer, and for other purposes.
21. H.R.4336 To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the burial in Arlington National Cemetery of the cremated remains of certain persons whose service has been determined to be active service.
April 20, 2016 By admin
Markup of Pending Legislation http://veterans.house.gov/markup/markup-of-pending-legislation-25
April 19, 2016 By admin
Legislative Hearing http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-9
April 18, 2016 By admin
Markup of Pending Legislation http://veterans.house.gov/markup/markup-of-pending-legislation-23
April 12, 2016 By admin
Yesterday, Chairman Miller introduced H.R. 4892, which would help veterans who have suffered a traumatic injury to their reproductive organs and who, as a result, cannot have children. The bill would provide affected veterans compensation for their injuries totaling $20,000, which could be used at the veteran’s discretion, including for adoption fees or other personal expenses.
After introducing the bill, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“This bill is about providing those who sacrificed more than most can imagine fair compensation and the opportunity to raise a family. If a veteran does decide to use this benefit to start a family of their own, the real winners would be the children. Who better to raise America’s next generation than the bravest of our current generation? But no matter how each affected veteran might utilize this benefit, one thing is clear: they earned it.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Read the bill here.
April 8, 2016 By admin
Today, Chairman Miller released the following statement regarding newly released Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General reports documenting patient wait-time manipulation at 40 VA facilities in 19 states.
“These reports document dysfunction on the part of both the Department of Veterans Affairs and its inspector general. The fact that the IG only released these documents after public pressure from the media as well as Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate is proof that it still has much more to learn when it comes to providing the oversight VA needs and the transparency taxpayers deserve. Nevertheless, the reports outline a host of serious scheduling issues that masked wait times at VA facilities around the country. And in classic VA fashion, almost no one has been seriously held accountable for any of this wrongdoing. In fact, according to VA’s own data, the department has successfully fired just four low-level employees for wait-time manipulation. Right now it’s incumbent on VA leaders to explain why that’s the case given the IG’s findings of widespread wait-time manipulation and other serious problems. And in the meantime, the Senate needs to get in step with veterans service organizations and taxpayers and get behind commonsense legislation like the House-passed VA Accountability Act, which would make it easier for the department to swiftly discipline corrupt and incompetent employees. Until those who caused the wait-time scandal are purged from the VA payroll, the department will never be fixed. Unfortunately, Senate inaction is currently preventing that from happening.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
The VA Accountability Act (H.R. 1994) passed the House in July of 2015 and is pending in the Senate. It would give the VA secretary the authority to swiftly fire or demote any employee for poor performance or misconduct while protecting whistleblowers and limiting the agency’s ability to place misbehaving employees on paid leave. It would also give VA the ability to recover annuities on pensions of VA senior executives convicted of felonies committed on the job.
April 6, 2016 By admin
A Continued Assessment of Delays in Veterans’ Access to Health Care http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/a-continued-assessment-of-delays-in-veterans-access-to-health-care
April 5, 2016 By admin
Legislative Hearing http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-8
April 5, 2016 By admin
Legislative Hearing http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-6
March 31, 2016 By admin
Today Chairman Miller and Sen. Marco Rubio, sponsors of the House and Senate versions of the VA Accountability Act, wrote to Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, calling on SVAC and the rest of the Senate to address the accountability crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In a letter, Miller and Rubio cautioned Isakson against taking an approach that favors reaching a deal with the Obama administration or others over addressing the department’s serious accountability problems in a meaningful way. View the letter here.
Additionally, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“Almost every day Americans are reminded that the federal civil service system is designed to coddle and protect corrupt and incompetent bureaucrats rather than facilitate a fair and efficient climate of accountability. Nowhere is this more visible than the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA’s inability to hold problem employees accountable is at the root of all of the department’s most serious problems, and that’s why we are calling on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – and the Senate as a whole – to act to give the VA secretary swift and comprehensive disciplinary authority over all VA employees. It’s time for the Senate to get in step with veterans and taxpayers and get behind commonsense proposals like the House-passed H.R. 1994 and S. 1082, which would help replace VA’s culture of complacency with a climate of real accountability. Until then, VA – forced to tolerate corruption and incompetence in its ranks – will continue to lurch from one scandal to the next and veterans will continue to suffer.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Chairman Miller and Sen. Rubio Letter to Chairman Isakson
March 31, 2016
March 22, 2016 By admin
Today Chairman Miller released the below statement following VA’s announcement that no employees will be seriously disciplined for the biggest construction failure in VA history as well as a separate $400,000 relocation scandal.
“Nearly every day we are reminded that accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs is almost non-existent. Today’s announcement from VA that no one will be seriously disciplined for wasting more than $1 billion on a failed construction project and that a few executives might receive a weak slap on the wrist or a temporary written warning for a relocation scandal that cost taxpayers more than $400,000 is more proof of this sad fact. One thing is clear: this dysfunctional status quo will never change until we eliminate arcane civil service rules that put the job security of VA bureaucrats ahead of the veterans they are charged with serving. The House acted to do just that last summer with passage of the VA Accountability Act, which would give the VA secretary the authority to swiftly fire or demote any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct while protecting whistleblowers and limiting the agency’s ability to place misbehaving employees on paid leave. If the Senate doesn’t follow suit with similar legislation to do the same thing, it is illogical to think VA’s many problems will ever be fixed.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
March 21, 2016 By admin
Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2393, the Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act of 2015. The bill would extend the foreclosure safeguard provision of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) through December 31, 2017. As part of the bill, eligible veterans are protected from any sale, foreclosure, or seizure of their property without a court order or waiver agreement signed by the servicemember for a one-year period after their active military service.
S. 2393 will now be sent to President Obama for his signature. Following House passage of the bill, Chairman Miller released the below statement.
“Those who volunteer for active-duty military service shouldn’t have to worry about financial hardships at home. This bipartisan bill will help provide that peace of mind by giving returning troops a year to get themselves onto steady financial footing following active-duty service, while keeping their property safeguarded from foreclosure. I applaud my colleagues’ commitment to ensuring the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act remains a relevant and viable tool for those who have worn the uniform and their families. I am hopeful President Obama will sign this legislation into law in short order.”– Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
March 20, 2016 By admin
A Review of Veterans Preference in Federal Government Hiring http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/a-review-of-veterans-preference-in-federal-government-hiring
May 26, 2016 By admin
VA Proposes to Grant Full Practice Authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses May 25, 2016, 03:18:00 PM Printable Version Need Viewer Software? VA Proposes to Grant Full Practice Authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Proposed Rule Will […]
May 25, 2016 By admin
Statement from VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald May 24, 2016, 06:25:00 PM Printable Version Need Viewer Software? STATEMENT FROM VA SECRETARY ROBERT A. MCDONALD On Monday, I made some remarks on how we’re working to improve Veterans’ […]
May 25, 2016 By admin
I Have MS but MS Does Not Have Me Every day I wake up, just like everyone else, and see the sun shining and the birds chirping and have the promise of the entire day set before me – 24 hours, 1,440 minutes – just like everyone else. The only thing that makes my waking […]