Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in introducing the VA Provider Accountability Act, legislation that would bring much needed accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“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 recent 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 veterans receive at the VA.”
A troubling GAO report from 2017 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.
The VA Provider Accountability Act would address this problem by requiring the VA to inform the National Practitioner Data Bank and state licensing boards of major adverse actions committed by medical providers at the VA. Additionally, it would prevent the VA from signing settlements with fired employees to conceal major medical mistakes in their personnel files.
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) have announced their support for this legislation.
In 2017, legislation cosponsored by Senator Collins and Angus King (I-ME) 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 will allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to dismiss bad employees and ensure appropriate due process protections for whistleblowers.