OUR Government @ Work
The House on Tuesday passed a bill aimed at preventing
future scheduling scandals at the Department of Veterans
Affairs and addressing treatment delays at VA hospitals.
The measure, sponsored by House Veterans Affairs
Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), is similar to
bipartisan legislation that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie
Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced this week.
However, the two bills have some differences.
Let’s take a look at how they compare.
Among the matching provisions, both bills would allow
veterans to seek care at non-VA medical centers if they live
more than 40 miles from a VA clinic or if they have
experienced long waits for an appointment.
Both measures would also require an independent
performance assessment for the Veterans Health
Administration, which runs VA hospitals.
The Senate bill would give the VA secretary greater
authority to fire senior executives over performance
problems, while Miller’s bill would not. But Miller proposed
a VA firing bill last month that passed the House with
overwhelming support, so he had no reason to include such
a measure in the newer legislation. We’ll count this as a
Miller’s bill would ban bonuses for all VA employees from
2014 through 2016, while the Senate proposal would not.
The VA has already suspended performance awards for its
senior executives this year.
The Senate bill includes several provisions not offered in the
House measure to help the VHA keep up with demand. It
would allow the agency to lease 26 new facilities for health
care and dedicate $500 million toward hiring new VA
The Senate measure would also guarantee in-state tuition
for all veterans at public colleges and universities, in
addition to expanding access to care for military sexual-
assault victims. The Miller plan does not include such