Renacci, Kilmer introduce legislative package to address VA challenges outlined in GAO report

A legislative package introduced by U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) on Friday as co-chairs of the Bipartisan Working Group aims to make a series of reforms to help the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) deliver better care and to improve access to care for veterans.

Measures included in the Accountability for Quality VA Healthcare Act, H.R. 3874, reflect recommendations made in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to address challenges facing the VA.

Renacci and U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and David Joyce (R-OH) were among the authors of seven individual bills that were included in the H.R. 3874 legislative package.

“I started this group six years ago to get things done in Washington and dropping a package of bipartisan bills with the goal of better serving our veterans should be an example to all members,” Renacci said. “Each week our group met to hammer out details and build bipartisan support to strengthen the services and care our veterans’ receive and I am excited we are pushing these bills forward, together.”

A provision led by Renacci, the VA Nursing Recruitment and Retention Improvement Act of 2017, would require an annual report on Veterans Health Administration (VHA) efforts to hire and retain enough qualified nurses to meet veterans’ medical needs.

A measure from Brooks, the Improve Access to Care for Our Female Veterans Act, would require the VHA to ensure adequate equipment is on hand to meet the medical needs of women at medical facilities.

The provision introduced by Joyce, the Reforms to Encourage VA Meaningful Progress (REVAMP) Act of 2017, would require the VHA to release a timeline for plans to address issues and to find ways to measure progress.

“We owe it to those who served not to let partisanship or gridlock get in the way of getting veterans the care they earned,” said Kilmer. “The Bipartisan Working Group is committed to finding consensus and solving problems, like those that have been plaguing the VA. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues from both parties on this legislation.”

Other provisions included in the legislative package would require better physical security of VA medical facilities, efforts to better align VA facilities with veterans’ needs, an updated handbook for opening new VA outpatient facilities, and routine assessments of VA scheduling needs.