Leahy offers bill to increase VA transparency

Lauren Schneiderman

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has introduced a bill to prevent Department of Veterans Affairs facilities from avoiding reports to Congress on major medical facility renovations and potentially causing longer wait times for care.

Leahy said that many VA facilities avoid reporting costs of more than $10 million by moving veterans' care elsewhere and using funds out of an account for medical services to pay for the transportation. He argued that this practice hid the cost and length of time for veterans' medical appointments.

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"Current law provides a disincentive to cost-effective, on-site medical care solutions when operating rooms are refurbished or rebuilt within a VA hospital or care facility," Leahy said in a press release.

Under Leahy's proposal, VA facilities would have to report expenses of temporary off-site care to Congress. Additionally, they would be authorized to lease or buy temporary medical facilities to help prevent veterans from traveling farther to receive care.

"As various techniques for gaming the system used by too many VA employees have come to light, one truth is acknowledged again and again: There can be no shortcuts to quality care for veterans," Leahy said.