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Bill Approved In The House Aims To Reduce VA Wait Times

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been under fire over reports of long wait times and the quality of services offered to veterans at VA hospitals.

VA hospital supervisors would lose money if they fail to cut down long wait times, under a bill unanimously approved by the House.

Congress gave the VA authority to fire supervisors or deny them incentive bonuses after revelations of hours-long wait times at some facilities. Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski says neither has happened.

“This gives us the ability to say bonuses are gone mandatorily from the U.S. Congress and so it does have more teeth. I think they’ve been using this to incentivize these folks. So we went right to what motivates them and that seems to be their pockets and we took that money.”

The VA sets standards for maximum wait times. Walorski complains the agency has routinely granted waivers when centers plead they’re understaffed.

Walorski’s bill would ban those exemptions. The bill would require an annual report to Congress on wait times at each VA facility, and would deny bonuses to the directors of facilities that don’t comply.

Walorski labels “reprehensible” VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s comparison of long wait times to long lines at Disneyland. McDonald says the larger question should be the quality of the service once they get in. Walorski charges the Disneyland analogy shows the agency isn’t taking the issue seriously.

Walorski says she expects the Senate to follow the House’s lead.

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