Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and John Boozman (R-AR) introduced the bipartisan VA Provider Accountability Act to address a 2019 GAO Report that concluded that the VA must take action to ensure its health care providers have the appropriate qualifications and clinical abilities to deliver safe, quality care to veterans.
“Our nation’s veterans deserve access to the high-quality health care that they have earned through their service to our country. As the daughter of a World War II veteran, I was shocked and outraged by investigations that found far too many instances of patients’ care being mismanaged by medical providers,” said Senator Collins. “By requiring the VA to report these issues in a timely manner and prohibiting the concealment of serious medical errors in settlements with fired VA employees, this legislation would help restore accountability, protect veterans, and enhance the care that they receive at the VA.”
A troubling 2017 GAO Report revealed an unacceptable trend of VA facilities failing to report providers who made major medical errors to the National Practitioner Data Bank and the relevant state licensing boards responsible for tracking dangerous practitioners. As a result, these practitioners can go into private practice or move across state lines without disclosing prior mistakes to patients or state regulators. A 2017 USA Today story uncovered specific, horrific medical care failures and mistakes that the VA allowed to continue and then concealed. This includes a podiatrist at Togus who was found in 88 cases to have harmed veterans and allowed to quietly resign to work in private practice.
Specifically, the VA Provider Accountability Act would address this problem by requiring the VA to:
· Compile, verify, and continuously monitor the professional licensures, certifications and registrations with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) and the applicable state licensing boards for certain VA health care professionals.
· Require certain VA health care professionals to hold an active DEA registration.
· Conduct ongoing, retrospective, and comprehensive monitoring of the performance and quality of the health care delivered by each health care professional to include concerns of competency or quality of care delivered by a health care professional are reported, as appropriate, to the state licensing, registration, or certification body of the health care professional.
· Provide biannual training on these licensure, employment, and reporting requirements to employees performing these duties.
The bill would also prohibit VA from entering into a settlement agreement regarding a claim by a VA employee under which it would be required to conceal a serious medical error or lapse in clinical practice that constitutes a substantial failure.
Click HERE to read the text of the bill.
In 2017, legislation co-sponsored by Senator Collins to help reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was signed into law. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act allows the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to dismiss bad employees and ensure appropriate due process protections for whistleblowers.