December 02, 2021

Manchin Questions Veterans Affairs Secretary McDonough On Restoring VA Accountability During Committee Hearing

Video of Senator Manchin during Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing can be found here
Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC), questioned Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), during the SVAC committee hearing on steps the VA is taking to regain Veterans’ trust and restore accountability at facilities. For years, Senator Manchin has fought to hold the VA and leadership accountable for their failures to protect the West Virginia Veterans receiving care at the Clarksburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) and Beckley VAMC.
One of the recent leadership failures stemmed from The Joint Commission, a third-party accreditation service that assesses VA facilities. The Joint Commission consistently awarded passing grades to the Clarksburg VAMC. However, in May the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued damning reports detailing failures that resulted in death of Veterans at the Clarksburg facility. Senator Manchin has been working to address these inconsistencies between VA oversight organizations to ensure transparency and accountability for VA facilities in West Virginia and across the country.
Senator Manchin said in part, “Secretary, you know, I've talked a lot about the Clarksburg situation and how horrific it was and I know that both the Senator and the Ranking Member have heard me talk about this before, but you know, the glaring thing that happened in our VA is that they were getting passing grades. The Joint Commission, which accredits the VA facilities, said that everything was good, consistently passing, and then we found out the OIG report was completely different. Give me a little update on what you've been able to do to change that from the Joint Commission versus the OIG to see if they're in sync?
In August, Senator Manchin secured language in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs bill to order a review of third-party accreditation providers, like the Joint Commission, to address the systemic failures in patient safety reporting at VAMCs, including Clarksburg.
Senator Manchin also questioned Secretary McDonough on the VA Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission, which is tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of VA facilities and identifying where investments should be made as well as where facilities should be consolidated, realigned, exchanged, out leased, replaced, sold or disposed. However, the last time there was an asset review, it made recommendations that would have disproportionally impacted rural VA hospitals in West Virginia and across the country.
In March 2019, Senator Manchin introduced the Elimination of the VA Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission of 2019 Act, to ensure Veterans’ vital healthcare access in rural areas is not eliminated. Senator Manchin is determined to ensure the highest healthcare standards for West Virginia Veterans while also continuing to ensure our existing infrastructure needs are met in rural states like West Virginia.
A video of Senator Manchin’s statement during the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee can be found here.
To view a timeline of Senator Manchin’s efforts at the Clarksburg VAMC, click here.