Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden supports plans to increase access to quality, timely care for Oregon veterans

May 31, 2017
Press Release

Greg Walden supports plans to increase access to quality, timely care for Oregon veterans

Applauds passage of seven bills in the House aimed at reducing the VA appeals backlog, improving mental health care, and combating opioid addiction for veterans

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Continuing his efforts to improve the care Oregon’s veterans receive at the Veterans Administration (VA), Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) recently voted for legislation passed in the House of Representatives to help give veterans increased access to quality care in a timely manner. Walden applauded seven bills passed in the House of Representatives to reduce the appeals backlog at the VA, tackle opioid addiction, and expand mental health care treatment options for veterans.

“Improving the care Oregon veterans receive at the VA is certainly a priority of mine and I know that it is for all Oregonians,” said Walden. “The House recently passed seven pieces of legislation to take on some of the biggest issues facing our veterans and improve their access to timely care. Legislation the House passed will help the VA move through the backlog of appeals -- this is a big issue for our veterans. This legislation would give veterans more options and increased flexibility in the appeals process, which they deserve. This will answer many of the concerns I’ve heard from veterans and veterans organizations in the district -- some of whom have waited two years just to get through the first step in the appeals process.

“We also passed bills to reduce duplicative medical examinations that are unnecessary and make sure all VA facilities comply with scheduling guidelines -- that makes sure our veterans get access to timely care. We also took concrete steps to improve the mental health care our veterans receive and to tackle the opioid epidemic -- which has affected veterans and non-veterans alike across our country. The bills we passed will create a pilot program to explore new, innovative treatment options for veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, or chronic pain, and allow for better monitoring of VA prescription drug use.

“There is still much work to be done to get veterans access to the care they have earned and deserve in a timely manner. We won’t give up until that is done. These bills are an important first step in making progress on that front," said Walden.

Details on each of the seven pieces of legislation Walden recently supported are included below:

VA Scheduling Accountability Act (H.R. 467) -- Holds directors of VA medical centers accountable to scheduling standards to ensure veterans receive access to care in a timely manner. Specifically, this bill requires each director of a VA medical center to annually certify compliance with the Veteran Health Administration’s Outpatient Scheduling Processes and Procedures directive. H.R. 467 would prohibit VA medical center leaders from receiving awards or bonuses if their facility fails to certify compliance with the directive. This legislation also requires the VA to ensure that directives and policies apply to all VA offices and facilities in a uniform manner.

Veterans Appeal Improvement and Modernization Act (H.R. 2288) -- Provides veterans with more options and flexibility in the appeals process. H.R. 2288 would give veterans three options for their appeal: (1) waive a hearing and the ability to submit additional evidence to expedite their appeal, (2) submit additional evidence and have a hearing, or (3) transfer jurisdiction of their appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Veterans who have an appeal pending at the VA prior to the bill’s effective date would also be allowed to opt-in to this new system. This legislation also requires the VA to provide a comprehensive plan for implementing this reform proposal, and requires the VA Secretary to verify that the VA has sufficient resources to address both new and so-called “legacy” appeals in  timely manner.

Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act (H.R. 1725) -- Requires the VA to report on their initiatives to reduce duplicative and unnecessary medical examinations. During a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, the American Legion testified that it had documented many instances of VA scheduling unnecessary and duplicative medical examinations with a VA physician. H.R. 1725 seeks to reduce the number of unnecessary disability examinations by requiring the VA to report on their use of private medical evidence in support of claims for disability compensation.

No Hero Left Untreated Act (H.R. 1162) -- Requires the VA to implement a pilot program to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic pain, or those who have experienced military sexual trauma by using Magnetic Resonant Therapy (MRT). MRT uses technology to identify dysfunctional areas of the brain in patients suffering from a mental health condition and then repeatedly applying magnetic stimulation to help restore proper brain function in those areas. This technology has been approved to treat depression and has been successfully used to treat conditions like PTSD and TBI.

VA Prescription Data Accountability Act (H.R. 1545) -- Requires the VA to disclose information about any individual (veteran or non-veteran) who is prescribed medication by a VA employee or authorized non-VA provider. The information would be disclosed to a state-controlled substances monitoring program to prevent misuse and diversion of prescription medications. This legislation aims to improve the VA’s current internal monitoring and information-sharing practices of prescription drugs to help prevent over-prescribing of narcotics.

Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (H.R. 1329) -- Increases disability compensation for veterans, dependents, and survivors by the same cost-of-living adjustment that Social Security recipients receive in 2018. Last Congress, the Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2016 passed the House of Representatives unanimously and was signed into law.

H.R. 1005 -- To amend title 38, U.S. Code, to improve the provision of adult day care services for veterans -- Directs the VA to enter into an agreement or a contract with state veterans homes to pay for adult day health care for a veteran eligible for, but not receiving, nursing home care. This bill stipulates that payment under each agreement or contract between the VA and a state veterans home must equal 65% of the payment that the VA would otherwise pay to the state home if the veteran were receiving nursing care. This bill aims to increase access to adult day health care for veterans eligible for nursing home care.

All seven pieces of legislation now await consideration in the Senate.

Walden has assisted over 5,000 Oregon veterans and their families with issues involving their benefits and care. If you or a loved one needs help with the VA or any other federal agency, you can call his office toll free at 800-533-3303. Walden has a team of veterans on staff ready to assist you.

###