Bipartisan bill would require VA to report disciplined providers to national database
A bipartisan bill introduced Wednesday would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to report major adverse actions to the National Practitioner Data Bank and state licensing boards, to inhibit the agency from hiding medical mistakes made by VA providers.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, will prohibit the VA from signing settlements with dismissed or fired staff -- which the senators say allow the agency to conceal serious medical errors or purge negative records from personnel.
The VA Provider Accountability Act would prevent medical providers with disciplinary actions on their record from crossing state lines to keep practicing -- despite their negative reports. The legislation would require the VA to report any disciplinary actions within 30 days to medical boards.
The bill comes on the heels of a recent USA Today investigation that revealed the VA has consistently concealed mistakes and poor care made by its medical staff. The VA repeatedly pushed aside firing orders and poor performance records in secret settlement deals with those departing providers.
In some cases, troubled providers weren’t reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank -- even after they were forced out of the VA.
“The investigation’s findings are downright shameful, and we need action immediately to ensure that the VA does not hide medical mistakes or inadequate care,” Heller said in a statement.
The current agency’s policy on disciplinary actions against VA providers is nearly 30-years-old and doesn’t include nurses, podiatrists, physicians’ assistants and other specialty providers. Further, it can currently take the VA months and even years to report poor poor performing providers to state boards in charge of regulating licenses.