Sanders to introduce VA accountability bill

Sanders to introduce VA accountability bill
© Lauren Schneiderman

The chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is planning to introduce a bill to ensure military veterans receive better medical treatment amid allegations of treatment delays at VA hospitals.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNew Dem message doesn’t mention Trump Senate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote Overnight Healthcare: Trump pressures GOP ahead of vote | McConnell urges Senate to start debate | Cornyn floats conference on House, Senate bills | Thune sees progress on Medicaid MORE (I-Vt.) said his proposal would increase accountability and improve veterans’ health care benefits, education and job-training programs. He plans to introduce the legislation after Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess on June 2.

“In recent years, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 1.5 million more veterans have entered the VA health care system,” Sanders said in a statement Friday. “Congress must do everything possible to make certain that the VA has the financial resources and administrative accountability to provide the high-quality health care and timely access to care that our veterans earned and deserve.” 

The Vermont senator said his legislation would also restore a one-percent cut in annual cost-of-living payments for military pensions. 

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of attempting to cover up issues at the VA that have resulted in some veterans being delayed treatment. 

Sanders has introduced the VA improvement bill before, but said Senate Republicans complained about the cost. Sanders’ office said the measure would cost $21 billion over the next 10 years. 

Sanders said the importance of providing proper care to veterans should outweigh concerns about the costs of the legislation. 

“If you think it’s too expensive to take care of our veterans then don’t send them to war,” he said this week in an exchange with Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioMexican politicians have a new piñata: Donald Trump Bush ethics lawyer: Congress must tell Trump not to fire Mueller The private alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program  MORE (R-Fla.). 

Rubio said Saturday in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times that the VA’s problems could not be solved with just more money.

Rubio touted his own bill to address the VA controversy that he said would make it easier for officials at the agencies to be fired for mistakes involving veterans' care.  

“Over this Memorial Day holiday, I encourage people to let their senators know why action must be taken to hold people accountable for the mistreatment of our veterans,” Rubio wrote. “Current law obstructs this accountability by forbidding the firing of negligent and incompetent VA officials, which is why my legislation is so important.”