The House is moving forward on a bill that would shorten the time in which Veterans Affairs employees and senior executives could appeal disciplinary actions and removals. The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016 also includes provisions that would change the veterans’ appeals process, but the bill is drawing ire from the Obama administration, House Democrats and federal employee groups.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee also discussed several of the recommendations from the VA Commission on Care’s report. Lawmakers generally agreed with the majority of the 18 suggestions, but issues of leadership at the Veterans Health Administration will likely be the sticking point in future debates over VA transformation.
The Obama administration said it agreed with most of the VA Commission on Care’s recommendations to improve veterans health care, adding that the department had started efforts to implement many of them already. President Barack Obama said he disagreed with three of the 18 suggestions.
In Omaha, Nebraska, private donors are ready and waiting to donate up to $80 million to help build a new veterans clinic that would serve as a pilot for community-based public-private partnerships with the Veterans Affairs Department. Trouble is, that’s illegal. Under current law, VA can’t accept private donations for construction projects. Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) ,the co-sponsor of legislation that would change that, talks with Jared Serbu on Federal Drive with Tom Temin about the partnership community leaders are envisioning in Omaha
Since 2014, when Veterans Affairs Department reform legislation became law, the VA has been expanding its network of outside health care providers. The Choice Program recently underwent a major review. Dr. Baligh Yehia, assistant deputy undersecretary for health at the Veterans Health Administration, talked about the changes and what’s still ahead on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
One year into a pilot with the Veterans Affairs Innovators Network, the department has made investments into 38 projects and ideas that teams of VA nurses, doctors and other rank-and-file employees have developed at eight medical centers around the country. More than 40 other VA medical centers submitted applications asking to join the Innovators Network.
The Office of Special Counsel offered a new approach for analyzing whistleblower retaliation cases, as the agency released its third amicus brief opposing higher burdens on whistleblowers. This particular case involved an employee at the Veterans Affairs Department.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said the Veterans First Act, which the department itself is actively supporting, has hit a few roadblocks. He hasn’t yet been able to bring the omnibus to a vote in the full Senate but said he is optimistic Congress will pass new veterans legislation this year.
In today’s Top Federal Headlines, the Veterans Affairs Department releases results of its analysis of over 55 million records spanning over 35 years related to veteran suicide.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is pushing for better integration and communication between the VA and Defense Department in her veterans policy plan. She proposes restructuring the Veterans Health Administration but specifically opposes efforts to privatize VA health care.
A new VA center seeks emerging therapies to enhance veterans’ physical and mental well-being.
When a veteran goes to federal prison, his or her payouts from the Veterans Benefits Administration are supposed to go down. But, they don’t always, and that has cost VBA tens of millions of dollars. Nick Dahl, director of the Bedford Audit Operations Division of the VA’s inspector general office, tells Federal Drive with Tom Temin about a new report that tells how VBA could fix the problem.
The Veterans Affairs Department and Underwriters Laboratories have signed an agreement to develop cybersecurity standards for health devices, such as pacemakers. Anura Fernando, principal engineer for medical software and systems interoperability at UL, fills in Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
The congressionally-appointed Commission on Care has issued its final report on how to overhaul the Veterans Benefits Administration. It calls for greater use of local, private sector networks to augment the work of VA hospitals and clinics. The recommendations have also drawn the fire of the American Federation of Government Employees. J. David Cox, AFGE’s national president tells Federal Drive with Tom Temin why he objects.