May 23, 2018
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe praised the bipartisan Senate passage of S.2372, the VA MISSION Act of 2018. This legislation enacts comprehensive reforms at the VA and ensures all veterans have access to the VA Caregiver Program. The legislation also extends critical funding for the VA Choice program, which gives veterans, especially those in rural communities, access to quality care in their own communities. In addition to emergency funding to continue the Choice program, the legislation would expand the program while removing arbitrary criteria to streamline community care. The bill passed the House 347 – 70 and now heads to the President’s desk for signature.
“Since 2015, Oklahoma has turned a corner, making meaningful changes and improvements to ensure our veterans get the high quality care they have earned. The passage of the VA Mission Act builds on our hard work by improving efficiency in the Veterans Affairs’ community care programs and expanding access to resources for veteran caregivers. It takes meaningful steps to improve the quality of care veterans receive by making it easier for VA health centers to recruit and retain key medical personnel. I am especially pleased that the legislation also continues funding for the VA Choice program, which allows veterans to avoid excessive travel or wait times by receiving high quality private care in their own communities.
“This legislation will have a positive, tangible impact on the care our veterans receive. I’m proud to continue our work to ensure our veterans get the care they deserve and look forward to the president enacting this legislation soon.”
On Nov. 30, 2015, VISN 19 sent two teams to investigate operations at the Muskogee VA center, one that looked at quality of care and the other that looked at management of the facility. Their visits resulted in the immediate shut down of intermediate surgeries at the Muskogee facility due to issues that were discovered. It also prompted the removal of the facility’s Chief of Staff on Feb. 9, who was temporarily reassigned until the completion of VA’s review of VISN 19’s report.
On Dec. 23, 2015, Inhofe contacted VISN 19 Network Director Ralph Gigliotti and requested his personal assistance in ensuring proper care is provided to the five veterans identified in the Dec. 23, 2015, USA Today article.
Inhofe also identified three initial reforms he wanted to see following the 2015 article: expand the VA Choice Program, allow outsight oversight of VA facilities and enable VA health centers to fire poorly performing employees. While President Trump signed legislation to extend the Veterans Choice Program in August, today’s legislation provides it the necessary funding to continue and expand service for veterans.
View Sen. Inhofe’s recent legislative proposal to support veteran health care here.