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VIDEO: Jaime Herrera Beutler Secures Amendment in House-Passed Legislation to Improve Medical Care for Veterans
Jaime successfully advocates for anonymous feedback from departing doctors and care providers to the VA; improved, region-specific solutions to VA problems
Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler successfully amended a bill to empower the Veterans Administration (VA) to more effectively hire and retain physicians and other care providers at its medical care facilities in Southwest Washington, and across the country.
high staff turnover at the VA that leads to long wait times for veterans.
The U.S. House also unanimously approved Jaime’s amendment to strengthen anonymity protections for VA employees who fill out surveys upon their departures, and require this exit survey data to be more localized so that the agency can better solve region-specific problems. The VA was already required to conduct these exit surveys thanks to Jaime’s prior efforts and report the information to Congress, but there are weaknesses in the reports’ methodology and analysis.
“And while that report had provided some insights, we found that it is failing to take a few important steps that would make sure we are receiving honest feedback from these exiting providers,” said Jaime on the House floor today. “For instance, the Portland VA employees who fill out these surveys have to fill it out at a kiosk in the (human resources) office, where the HR staff can see them doing it.
“And while the survey itself is ‘anonymous,’ departing employees have to log into the kiosk with their employee identification number. The fear of being identified is a big deterrent for providers to fill out this voluntary but critical survey.”
“Only if VA providers are telling the honest truth about what they saw, heard and experienced in the workplace can the VA fix the problems that plague its facilities.
“[My amendment] also requires exit survey data to be compiled at the regional level, to identify and acknowledge local needs,” Jaime continued. “What needs to change in Southwest Washington may not be the same as what’s happening in Texas, or Virginia, or Florida, and this amendment will help the VA identify the right region-specific solutions.
Even though there have been focused efforts by the VA to hire more providers, high turnover and staff shortages have been an ongoing problem in addressing the challenge of long wait times for veterans and lack of continuity of care. For example, between August 2014 and December 31, 2015, the Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho region hired 58 primary care providers. During that same period the region lost 49 primary care providers, for a net gain of 9.