WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, along with Sens. John Boozman of Arkansas and Orrin Hatch of Utah, introduced the Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans Act.
“It should go without saying that those hired to treat and care for our veterans should have a proven record of providing quality health care. The Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans bill makes sure that a third party reviews each case where any veteran was treated by a VA provider who was later found to have a revoked license,” Ernst said.
“Our nation’s veterans answered the call of duty when we needed them and have earned high quality health care. Ensuring that providers are thoroughly vetted, and that veterans and their families have the information needed to make informed decisions, is crucial to ensuring that the VA delivers the world-class care veterans deserve,” Grassley said.
Following a December 2017 report in USA Today by Donovan Slack that the VA hired providers with revoked licenses, the VA took corrective action by taking appropriate human resources action and issuing new guidance to prevent health care providers with revoked licenses from being hired in the future.
While the VA is taking corrective action, the Act goes one step further by ensuring that every health care provider that was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with a revoked license undergo a third party clinical review of that provider’s care. If the review determines that a competent practitioner would have managed the veteran’s care differently, the veteran will be notified.
The USA Today story found that the VA—including the one in Iowa City—knowingly hired providers who had their licenses revoked or had misconduct allegations. Ernst and Grassley wrote a letter to the VA asking for answers on these hiring practices, specifically about the provider in Iowa City. The VA responded to their letter stating that they were doing a national review of this process to ensure compliance under current law.
On December 21, 2017, Ernst and Grassley again pushed for additional information from the VA about the process of the national review, including when results would be made public and if families of veterans treated by these unqualified providers would be notified. In January 2018, the VA responded, indicating that they are still working through their national review of VA providers.