Bipartisan amendment authored by U.S. Senators Thom Tillis, Tammy Baldwin, and Jerry Moran closes loophole
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate recently passed a bipartisan amendment introduced by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) to protect veterans seeking care though VA community care programs, like the Choice Program, from being treated by doctors who have been fired or who are suspended from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The amendment, based on the Veterans Acquiring Community Care Expect Safe Services (ACCESS) Act, was included in a larger VA funding bill passed yesterday by a vote of 89-8.
“Health care providers who are unfit to treat veterans at VA facilities should not be allowed to continue their practice in VA community care programs,” said Senator Tillis. “This commonsense, bipartisan amendment will close that loophole and help ensure that veterans using the Choice Program are receiving care from trusted providers.”
“No matter where our veterans are receiving their care, we should do our best to ensure that they are receiving the best care possible,” said Senator Baldwin. “It’s commonsense that if a doctor is suspended or has been fired from the VA, they shouldn’t be able to serve veterans seeking care within their own communities, and certainly shouldn’t be doing so with taxpayer dollars. I’m proud to work across the aisle on this bipartisan reform to help ensure our veterans receive the quality health care they need, deserve and have earned.”
“This is a common-sense principle – VA healthcare providers who have failed to provide quality care for our veterans should not be given another opportunity to participate in a community healthcare program that would still give them access to veterans,” said Senator Moran. “Those who put veterans’ health at risk and were fired from the VA, violated state license requirements or broke the law are clearly unable to provide the very best care our nation has to offer veterans, which is what they deserve.”
Currently, there is nothing explicitly in law or VA regulation that stops fired or suspended VA providers from participating in VA-administered community care programs. To close this dangerous loophole, the amendment requires the VA Secretary to deny or revoke the eligibility of a healthcare provider to participate in community programs if that provider was removed from employment with VA, violated his or her medical license, had a Department certification revoked, or broke the law.
In addition, the bipartisan reforms would ensure that when a provider is suspended from VA care, the provider is also suspended from non-VA care. The amendment would also give VA the ability under certain circumstances to deny, revoke, or suspend a provider’s eligibility if that action is necessary to immediately protect the health, safety, or welfare of veterans.