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Ernst: ‘We should expect and demand the highest standard of care for Iowa’s veterans’

The senator’s bipartisan bill builds on her efforts to hold the VA accountable for hiring providers with a history of misconduct and preventing it from happening again

WASHINGTON – Following a Government Accountability Office report detailing that Veterans Health Administration facilities are hiring providers with a history of misconduct, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate, has fought tirelessly to ensure our nation’s veterans are receiving the highest standard of care. Building on her efforts, Ernst joined Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in putting forward a bipartisan bill to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is sufficiently vetting and training veteran health providers.

“We should expect, and demand, the highest standard of care for Iowa’s veterans and those across the nation. This bipartisan bill builds on my effort to ensure the VA is held accountable for who they’re hiring to provide treatment and care to our nation’s veterans,” said Senator Ernst.

“Our nation’s veterans have earned the right to the very best care, and it is outrageous that the VA is not sufficiently vetting its health care providers,” said Senator Hassan. “Following the VA’s failure to even respond to a letter asking how it will remedy the issues raised in the Government Accountability Office report, my colleagues and I are introducing bipartisan legislation to ensure that the VA takes action so that veterans are not cared for by providers with a history of misconduct.”

“Arizona veterans rely on the VA for critical health care. Our bipartisan legislation ensures VA medical professionals are qualified to provide the high standard of care Arizona veterans have earned,” said Senator Sinema

In October, the senators sent an oversight letter to the VA requesting detailed information about the steps it will take to implement the report’s recommendations, but the Senators have yet to receive a response. So, the senators put forward the bipartisan Veterans Health Administration Caregiver Retention and Eligibility Determination (VHA CRED) Act of 2019 which addresses the problems raised in the Government Accountability Office report by:

  • Requiring the VA Under Secretary for Health to prescribe regulations and guidance to improve the credentialing process for providers who work at Veterans Health Administration facilities;
  • Ensuring that those responsible for credentialing providers receive thorough training;
  • Requiring the Under Secretary for Health to develop and implement a program to continuously monitor credentialed providers to ensure that they still meet the requirements; and
  • Requiring the Under Secretary for Health to conduct an audit of all providers with adverse actions and the effect those actions have on their employment eligibility and submit the report to Congress.

Earlier this year, Senator Ernst introduced the Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans Act, which requires that every health care provider hired by the VA with a revoked license undergoes a third party 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. Ernst spoke before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee urging support for this legislation.