WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), along with Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), introduced the Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans Act.
“It should go without saying that those hired to treat and care for our veterans should have a proven record of providing quality health care. The Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans bill makes sure that a third party reviews each case where any veteran was treated by a VA provider who was later found to have a revoked license,” said Senator Ernst.
“Our nation’s veterans answered the call of duty when we needed them and have earned high quality health care. Ensuring that providers are thoroughly vetted, and that veterans and their families have the information needed to make informed decisions, is crucial to ensuring that the VA delivers the world-class care veterans deserve,” said Senator Grassley.
“The VA is undertaking a full review of the care any veteran has received by a physician who previously had their license revoked by a state medical board. I’m pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to ensure that the VA maintains a focus on this critically important issue. This is a commonsense measure to protect the health and wellbeing of our nation’s veterans. After working with the VA as it reviews records of a physician removed for cause in Arkansas, I can attest to the hard work, keen focus and determined effort the VA is making to understand the full impact on patients so it can provide the appropriate care,” said Senator Boozman.
“Caring for our veterans is among my top priorities. That’s why today I am pleased to join Senators Ernst and Grassley on the Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans Act. This commonsense legislation improves care for our veterans by mandating third-party clinical reviews of providers whose licenses have been revoked. It also holds the VA accountable for the quality of care the agency provides. This bill seeks to protect our veterans, just as they have protected us and our way of life,” said Senator Hatch.
Following a December 2017 report in USA Today by Donovan Slack that the VA hired providers with revoked licenses, the VA took corrective action by taking appropriate human resources action and issuing new guidance to prevent health care providers with revoked licenses from being hired in the future.
While the VA is taking corrective action, the Act goes one step further by ensuring that every health care provider that was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with a revoked license undergo a third party clinical review of that provider’s care. If the review determines that a competent practitioner would have managed the veteran’s care differently, the veteran will be notified.
The USA Today story found that the VA—including the one in Iowa City—knowingly hired providers who had their licenses revoked or had misconduct allegations. Senators Ernst and Grassley wrote a letter to the VA asking for answers on these hiring practices, specifically about the provider in Iowa City. The VA responded to their letter stating that they were doing a national review of this process to ensure compliance under current law.
On December 21, 2017 Senators Ernst and Grassley again pushed for additional information from the VA about the process of the national review, including when results would be made public and if families of veterans treated by these unqualified providers would be notified. In January 2018, the VA responded, indicating that they are still working through their national review of VA providers.