McMorris Rodgers, Poliquin fight to halt malpractice, substandard care within VA

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical staff would be required to report any unethical behavior that they observe directly to state licensing boards under legislation introduced on Thursday by U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME).

Under current law, it takes the VA a minimum of 100 days to decide whether to forward reports of substandard health care to state licensing boards. McMorris Rodgers and Poliquin introduced the Ethical Patient Care for Veterans Act of 2017 in response to revelations that the VA routinely failed to report bad medical practitioners to the public.

A recent investigation by USA Today found that mistakes or substandard care provided by VA medical staff have been concealed for years.

“These newest reports out of the VA are deeply troubling,” said McMorris Rodgers, who serves as Republican Conference Chair. “Our veterans deserve the best care imaginable, but as we’ve seen, far too often that’s not the case. This bill will help reform the culture at the VA by holding bad actors accountable and keeping them from continuing these mistakes at the VA or elsewhere.”

The bill, which McMorris Rodgers and Poliquin introduced with U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, aims to address the issue by requiring that malpractice be reported to licensing boards in the future. As a result, VA doctors could face consequences just like doctors do in private practice.

“These most recent reports are nothing short of appalling,” said Poliquin, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Our Maine veterans depend on their services at Togus and other VA facilities across our state for critical care, and it is absolutely unacceptable for them to ever be subjected to this kind of medical malpractice. We must have accountability at the VA, to ensure our veterans are always getting the best care possible, and I am proud to be working on the Veterans Affairs’ Committee to do that.”

McMorris Rodgers, who co-founded the bipartisan Military Family Caucus, represents more than 68,000 veterans and Fairchild Air Force Base in Eastern Washington.

“We should be rolling out the red carpet to our nation’s heroes in Eastern Washington and around the country, and that starts with ensuring that the best and brightest are at the VA caring for our veterans,” she said.

The congresswoman had House Veterans Affairs Committee staff members come to Spokane in June to investigate the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center after hearing complaints from veterans. During the visit, the congressional staff discovered a leaking roof that presented safety issues. McMorris Rodgers secured funding for the repairs and said construction will begin shortly to ensure the VA facility is safe.