In 2014, the public became aware that hundreds of veterans were being left to die on secret wait lists at the Phoenix VA. Since that time nearly three years ago, an avalanche of scandals from facilities nationwide has proven that legislation is necessary to hold employees accountable for quality of care issues at VA hospitals. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been calling for this accountability at the VA since scandal first broke.
Yesterday, Sen. Rubio reintroduced the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act. The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act would shorten the termination process to remove poorly performing VA employees. It would also eliminate the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) from the termination process of senior executives who engage in misconduct. MSPB has been responsible for the reinstatement of senior executives who gamed the system for personal gain, so this measure combats instances like this from reoccurring.
This Act would eliminate senior executives’ bonuses for the next four years and give the VA Secretary authority to recoup bonuses where needed. It also would give the VA Secretary the authority to reduce the pensions of VA employees convicted of felonies.
Finally, this Act would reform the broken disability benefits appeals process that is in desperate need of modernizing. In addition, whistleblower protection would be strengthened to ensure that those who come forward with concerns about misconduct are not retaliated against.
The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act is the type of robust reform that veterans need for the VA. Should this bill make it to the President’s desk, it should be signed into law to ensure that no more employees get away with poor behavior and gross mismanagement.
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