Today, the House of Representatives passed seven bills that bring real reform to the way our country treats our veterans. As Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Health subcommittee, one of my top priorities is getting our heroes the care they deserve and have earned.
Here's a quick breakdown of the bills we just passed:
What we passed: Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (H.R. 2288)
- What it does: Creates a three “lane” proposal for the veterans’ appeal process: (1) A lane in which an adjudicator reviews the same evidence considered by the original claim processor; (2) a lane in which the veteran could submit new evidence for review and have a hearing; (3) a lane in which the veteran could submit directly to the board.
- Why it matters: The VA’s current appeals process is broken, and the backlog of appeals is out of control. This new system would help VA move through the backlog of appeals so that veterans waiting on their disability decision can have peace of mind.
What we passed: VA Scheduling Accountability Act (H.R. 467)
- What it does: Requires VA medical center directors to annually certify that their facility is in compliance with the 2010 VA scheduling directive for scheduling outpatient clinic appointment.
- Why it matters: All veterans deserve timely access to quality health care. Lack of oversight of scheduling policies contributed to VA’s delays in care scandal, where veterans died waiting for care. This bill would ensure that VA medical facilities across the country are individually held accountable for their scheduling practices.
What we passed: Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act (H.R. 1725)
- What it does: Streamlines the process for disability exams required for veterans to apply for disability benefits.
- Why it matters: Currently, duplicative medical examinations add unnecessary delays and cost to the disability claims process. Veterans seeking disability benefits deserve to have their claims decided in a timely manner.
What we passed: No Hero Left Untreated Act (H.R. 1162)
- What it does: Creates a pilot program to explore Magnetic Resonant Therapy as a treatment for veterans experiencing mental health conditions.
- Why it matters: As we work to combat increases in veteran suicide and opiate overuse, our veterans deserve access to the most cutting-edge medical treatments. Magnetic Resonant Therapy has been successfully used to treat depression, PTSD and TBI.
What we passed: To amend title 38, US Code, to improve the provision of adult day health care services for veterans (H.R. 1005)
- What it does: Increases access to adult day health care for veterans eligible for nursing home care.
- Why it matters: Adult day health care programs are an alternative to nursing home care that provide aging veterans with companionship and care. Expanding access to adult day health care would allow veterans who qualify for more costly VA-paid nursing home care the ability to stay at home longer.
What we passed: VA Prescription Data Accountability Act (H.R. 1545)
- What it does: Improves VA’s current information-sharing practices for prescription drugs, ensuring patient information for both veterans and non-veterans (dependents and those who meet certain qualifications) is shared with state prescription monitoring programs.
- Why it matters: The opioid epidemic affects veterans and non-veterans alike. Partnering with states helps prevent the over-prescribing of narcotics.
What we passed: Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (H.R. 1329)
- What it does: Ensures that our nation’s veterans receive the same annual cost-of-living adjustment as Social Security recipients.
- Why it matters: Providing our veterans with a cost-of-living adjustment to keep up with inflation is common sense and part of making sure they get the benefits they have earned.
I'll keep you posted as I continue to work to make sure those who served receive the care, benefits, and opportunities they deserve and have earned.