Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act by a vote of 310-116. The legislation was co-sponsored by Congressman Dan Benishek.
"Our work on the Veterans Committee has been focused on ensuring the VA Secretary has the tools necessary to help our veterans receive the care they have earned," said Dr. Benishek. "This legislation gives the VA Secretary the authority to reprimand and dismiss toxic employees who undermine the VA's mission of caring for America's veterans, and makes improvement to the appeals process to assist our veterans in need of help."
H.R. 5620 authorizes the VA Secretary to fire or demote any VA employee for performance or misconduct, including recoup bonuses or relocation expenses; increase protections for whistleblowers; reform the VA's appeals process by increasing avenues of recourse for veterans; and eliminate all bonuses for VA Senior Executive Service Employees for FY 2017-2021.
"Many of the problems this bill addresses are the same issues I encountered as a VA doctor during the past two decades," added Dr. Benishek. "Instead of excuses, there needs to be solutions from VA officials, and this bill is another step in the right direction."
Dr. Benishek was born in Iron River and graduated from Wayne State Medical School in 1978. He served as a general surgeon in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in a private practice since 1983 while also working part-time at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for the past twenty years.