10/27/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/27/2021 13:30
Today, Congressman John Moolenaar, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Congresswoman Lisa McClain, and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin introduced the bipartisan Veterans Patient Advocacy Act and the bipartisan Patient Advocate Tracker Act to improve critical components of the VA's care programs. Both bills are supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Student Veterans of America (SVA).
The Veterans Patient Advocacy Act, led by Moolenaar and Dingell, will require the VA to appropriately staff its patient advocacy programs by increasing the number of patient advocates for veterans.
The Patient Advocate Tracker Act, led by McClain and Slotkin, will create an online portal where veterans can track the status of formal complaints they file through the VA.
"Our veterans deserve to have better service from the VA, and I have heard from many veterans that there are simply not enough patient advocates at the VA," said Moolenaar. "The legislation we are introducing today will increase the number of patient advocates and improve accountability, so our veterans will receive better care and attention from VA staff. My Michigan colleagues and I have worked across the aisle to introduce these important solutions for our veterans, and we are proud to have support of the VFW, the SVA, and their members for our legislation today."
"This country's veterans put their lives on the line for us and we need to give them the care they deserve," said Dingell. "Currently, VA patient advocates are being assigned to multiple medical centers at a time, leading to a lack of quality care for veterans. This bipartisan legislation would address this challenge by ensuring every veteran has easy access to a patient advocate and that patient advocates have the bandwidth to fulfill their duties."
"The Patient Advocate Tracker Act is commonsense legislation that will make the VA more transparent and cause less frustrations for our veterans," said McClain. "Veterans deserve the best health care possible, and when they receive subpar care, they need to be able to easily report complaints to their patient advocate, track it and get the best outcome possible. This bill will simplify the process and help them track their complaint."
"I hear from veterans across Mid-Michigan who have struggled to access the VA care and benefits they've earned," said Slotkin. "Expanding the VA's patient advocacy programs is a commonsense way to improve quality of service and make sure our veterans needs are being met. These two bills will increase transparency at the department and help it operate as efficiently as possible on behalf of our veteran community."
"This legislation will save lives and will provide a dramatic leap forward in the quality of care our veterans receive across the country," said VFW State Commander Kevin Conklin. "The teamwork seen with Representatives Moolenaar, Dingell, McClain and Slotkin, alongside the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Student Veterans of America shows the importance of strengthening and streamlining the VA's Patient Advocacy program. We are proud that the idea for this legislation came from one of the SVA and VFW's very own members, Cameron Zbikowski, and we'll continue to look for solutions from the end users of VA care and programs."
The Veterans Patient Advocacy Act "provides a substantial solution to this problem by requiring no fewer than one PA for every 13,500 veterans enrolled in the system. With this requirement, we believe the Patient Advocacy program will see stronger returns and superior representation of veterans seeking assistance, " wrote Jared Lyon, the president and CEO of the Student Veterans of America, in a letter of support for both pieces of legislation.
Lyon also wrote the "Patient Advocate Tracker Act, requires VA to create an electronic system that allows veterans to file complaints and track the status of those complaints in real time. It is important to note that this filing and tracking system already exists for VA, they simply do not provide such information to veterans. With this solution in hand, veterans will have access to updated and timely information regarding their complaints, leading to decreased frustration and a higher quality, transparent experience from VA."