Washington, D.C.—U.S. Representatives Mike Bost’s (R-IL) bipartisan legislation to address the growing problem of Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) medical centers operating without permanent directors passed the House on Friday. The VA Health Center Management Stability and Improvement Act (HR 1131), was adopted as an amendment to VA reform legislation that now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
“No business or organization can successfully operate under a revolving door of short-term leaders – especially not one tasked with caring for America’s heroes,” said Bost. “At a time when restoring accountability and leadership at the VA is a primary focus, we can’t afford to continue operating in this haphazard way. As a veteran myself, it’s my duty to do my part in providing the stability necessary to ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve.”
“I appreciate the support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in passing this legislation to support our veterans. This is exactly how the legislative process is supposed to work. A problem was identified that affects veterans throughout the United States, a bipartisan legislative solution was proposed, and the legislation was ultimately passed by the House. I encourage my counterparts in the Senate to take up this legislation as soon as possible.”
More than 20 VA medical centers nationwide currently lack a permanent director. Some of these facilities have not been staffed by a permanent director in almost two years. In lieu of a permanent director, these facilities have been managed by interim directors who may only serve in that capacity for an average tenure of 120 days. Rep. Bost’s legislation would require the Secretary of the VA to report to Congress with a plan for addressing the shortage of permanent directors, a shortage that could hinder the ability to engage in long-term planning and other functions necessary to improve service delivery to our veterans.
Bost, a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced HR 1131 in February with Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). The VA Health Center Management Stability and Improvement Act:
- Requires the Secretary of the VA to develop and submit to Congress a plan to hire highly-qualified medical directors for each medical center that lacks a permanent director within 120 days of enactment;
- Identifies possible impediments to staffing facilities with permanent directors; and
- Assesses the possibility of promoting and training qualified candidates from within the VA for promotion to Senior Executive Service positions.