January 02, 2020

Senate Passes Manchin VA Accountability Legislation

Washington, D.C. The Senate unanimously passed S. 221, the VA Provider Accountability Act, which was introduced by U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Susan Collins (R-ME). The Senators introduced S. 221 earlier this year to bring much needed accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The legislation will now be referred to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“While a great majority of VA doctors provide the very best of care, the system can be ruined by a few bad apples and it’s our duty to protect Veterans from these dangerous doctors. I originally cosponsored this bill in response to a 2017 GAO report that showed an alarming pattern of concealing poor care and major mistakes within the VA. I am proud to have joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this important bill because we need to hold all our medical professionals accountable,” said Senator Manchin. “While I appreciate the efforts that the VA has made to correct this on their own, they are not enough. Now that our bill has passed, strict guidelines will be implemented to assure our Veterans they are receiving the highest quality of care.”

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 concealed. 

On May 22, 2019, the Comptroller General of the United States (GAO) testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that since the 2017 GAO report the VA has failed to implement recommendations regarding appropriate reporting to state licensing boards. These concerns were reiterated in an October 16, 2019 GAO report.

The VA Provider Accountability Act would solve 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 hide major medical mistakes in their personnel files. 

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) support this legislation.