Roby signals plan that could send shockwaves through failing veterans healthcare facilities
(Above: Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2) introduces an amendment to the VA funding committee report)
WASHINGTON — Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby is laying the groundwork for a plan that would give the Secretary of Veterans Affairs authority to take over operations when a local VA is chronically underperforming.
The scandal-plagued Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) has made national headlines in recent months for having some of the longest wait times in the nation. CAVHCS employees were previously found to be engaged in scheduling manipulation to cover up their long wait times. Other disturbing instances of malfeasance and cover-up at the Central Alabama VA include the targeting of whistleblowers by the local VA leadership, and revelations that a patient in the facility’s drug rehab program was taken by a VA employee to buy drugs at a crack house and to solicit a prostitute.
“I have grown increasingly frustrated with the situation in Central Alabama because it seems like we are relying on a broken system to fix itself,” Roby told Yellowhammer Wednesday. “After all the staff shakeups and promises to improve, we haven’t seen progress.”
Roby compared the need to have oversight of the VA system to what happens at the state level when a local school fails to meet standards, compelling the state department of education to step in and take charge.
“We need a similar mechanism at the VA when medical centers continually fail our veterans” she said. “I’m tired of the excuses from this giant bureaucracy. I want the onus for fixing the Central Alabama VA to be squarely on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and it’s only fair to first make sure he has the proper tools to do it.”
Roby is currently using the legislative process to investigate whether or not the Secretary of the VA has those “tools,” but she suspects he does not. As a result, her office is also preparing to offer new legislation that would empower the secretary to “swiftly step in and take over some of these deeply failing systems.”
A report in the Appropriations Committee Wednesday also included $4.1 billion in increased funds for the VA, as well as $901 million in increased military construction spending.
Military installations in Alabama would see almost nearly $88 million in appropriations, including $33 million for new school construction to repair and replace aging schools at Maxwell Air Force Base, $47 million new school construction to replace aging schools Fort Rucker, and $7.6 million for a new Squadron Operations Facility at Dannelly Field.
Like this article? Hate it? Follow me and let me know how you feel on Twitter!
— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015