Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, Congressmen Tom Emmer (MN-06) and Tim Walz (MN-01) introduced H.R. 3686 - the Veterans Care and Reporting Enforcement Act (CARE) Act.
This bipartisan legislation was introduced after an unreleased report from 2013 surfaced earlier this year and demonstrated a need for more transparency around reports from the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General.
The Veterans CARE Act:
- Improves Congressional oversight by requiring the release of OIG reports involving patient health and safety at VA medical facilities to the appropriate Congressional Committees and Members of Congress where the VA facility resides.
- Provides for greater transparency by ensuring the public can access these reports not less than three days after the report is closed. Additionally, the VA OIG must make the report available on their website for not less than one year.
- Increases accountability by notifying employees if their VA facility has been investigated and how to access the report for a minimum of 30 days.
“Enough is enough. America’s veterans have made tremendous sacrifices on behalf of our country, and we owe them exemplary services once they return home,” said Emmer. “It is heartbreaking to see how the dedicated staff at the VA and the patients they care for are repeatedly underserved by the very government tasked with helping them. I want to thank Congressman Walz for joining with me to introduce the Veterans CARE Act. This is a non-partisan issue, and as a nation we must continue our work to bring accountability, transparency and oversight to the VA.”
“We need a strong, independent Office of the Inspector General at the VA now more than ever. While they have done good work investigating the claims of brave whistleblowers at the VA, more transparency is needed. After visiting St Cloud with Mr. Emmer this past week, it is clear to me we have more work to do. The sooner we know about situations like St Cloud, the sooner we can address them. This legislation will increase transparency around OIG investigations, and I thank Mr. Emmer for working with me on this critical issue.”
Last week, Congressmen Emmer and Walz met with St. Cloud VA staff, union officials as well as veterans and their families to address concerns raised in the 2013 VA OIG report. Following the meeting, Emmer and Walz suggested federal mediation to assist in the ongoing conflict between leadership and staff in St. Cloud.
Click here to read the full text of H.R. 3686.
A copy of the report can be found here.