March 09, 2018
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) held a press conference at the Oklahoma City VA today where they were joined by local veteran Pete Peterson, Oklahoma City VA Director Wade Vlosich and Muskogee VA Director Mark Morgan. Together, they announced a new initiative to help each of Oklahoma’s VA facilities achieve a five star rating, indicating they are the two of the highest performing VA facilities in the country.
Additionally, Sen. Inhofe and Congressman Mullin announced they were introducing legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Lankford and Rep. Russell, to require all VA Medical Centers to present a plan to reach five star ratings.
“In the past few years, we’ve made significant progress to improve the standard of care our veterans receive by installing and empowering new leadership and promoting greater transparency. I’m proud of our VA directors and the culture of improvement and accountability they have built. I’m eager to work with them and get them any tools or authorities they need to reach a five star-status,” Sen. Inhofe said. “By saying that we’re going to aim for the highest rating, all of us here today are committing to a culture of continuous improvement at the VA. Our legislation, which would require all VA facilities to submit a plan of how to achieve a five-star rating, would seek to instill that same attitude in VAs around the country so that our veterans receive the best care possible.”
“The men and women who have fearlessly served our nation deserve first-class, or in this case, 5-star health care,” said Sen. Lankford. “The requirement for a specific improvement plan proposed in this bill will assist the VA to achieve the care that our military men and women deserve, and I’m honored to partner with Senator Inhofe, Congressman Mullin and Congressman Russell to introduce a plan that helps the nation’s VA health care facilities continue to improve.”
“Our nation’s veterans deserve five star care no matter which VA health care facility they choose,” said Rep. Mullin. “I’m proud to help introduce legislation that brings greater accountability to the VA facilities serving our veterans. The VA Medical Center Improvement Act instructs underperforming VA facilities to devise a plan to deliver better health care to our veterans. The VA should consistently strive to improve and modernize the care our veterans receive and I’m grateful this piece of legislation brings us one step closer to high quality health care for all of our veterans.”
“Having served for 21 years in the Army, I know firsthand how much our soldiers sacrifice in defense of our republic,” Rep. Russell said. “Our veterans deserve the very best medical care; anything less than the highest standard is unacceptable. S. ___ will push our VA medical facilities to deliver the quality of care that our veterans deserve. I’m proud to support this important legislation, and will be introducing a companion bill in the House.”
The Veterans Health Administration uses a unified system for summarizing hospital system performance at individual VA Medical Centers based on 25 quality measures that include complications, patient satisfaction, wait times and staff turnover. The VA Medical Centers are evaluated then awarded ratings, on a scale of 1-5 based both on their relative performance to other VA facilities as well as on year-to-year improvement. While the relative nature of the star system means not every facility will be able to achieve the highest rating, the legislation being introduced seeks to raise the level of patient care across the board by increasing competition for the highest level of ratings.
Background on Sen. Inhofe’s work to improve veteran health care: