WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) introduced a bill Tuesday to improve the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to discipline and dismiss doctors for poor performance or wrongdoing. The Ensuring Veteran Safety Through Accountability at the VA Act would expand the expedited disciplinary authority given to the VA secretary last year in the Veterans Choice, Access and Accountability Act. Senator Johnson said this about his bill:
“We owe our veterans, the finest among us, the very best medical care. That is why the revelations of terrible failures at the VA Medical Center in Tomah — and at other VA facilities around the country — were so shocking. Our first priority must be to ensure that tragedies such as those in Tomah do not happen again.
“That starts with transparency. That is why I and others are advancing legislation to ensure that reports from the VA’s watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, are made public.
“Another crucial step is to root out ‘bad apples.’ Today, I’m introducing a bill to expand the ability of the VA to discipline or, if necessary, fire health care professionals who cannot do their jobs properly. The vast majority of the men and women caring for veterans in our VA facilities are dedicated to providing the best level of care. It is a mark of respect for their professionalism that we enable VA management to weed out those who cannot match that standard.
“Even more, is it a mark of respect for our veterans that we stop shielding substandard performance behind a bureaucratic tangle. This bill clears the way for appropriately prompt discipline. I am grateful that 12 of my Senate colleagues are cosponsoring the bill and that we have the endorsement of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. I also greatly appreciate my fellow Wisconsinite, Rep. Sean Duffy, introducing a companion bill in the House. I urge the Senate to act on this matter swiftly.”