03.15.19

Peters, Gardner, Tipton, Crow Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Streamline Veterans Affairs Hiring Process

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with Representatives Scott Tipton (CO-3) and Jason Crow (CO-6), introduced bipartisan legislation to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) hiring process by making it easier to fill staffing shortages. The Veterans Improved Access and Care Act would establish a pilot program to expedite the onboarding of licensed medical professionals at understaffed VA facilities, and would require the Secretary of the VA to submit a detailed report on how to best streamline the VA’s hiring process.

“It’s critical that the VA medical facilities our veterans rely on are fully staffed by qualified doctors, nurses and health care professionals,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan legislation would help address the staffing shortage by streamlining the hiring process across the VA system, so that veterans in Michigan and every corner of the country have access to timely, quality medical care.”

“In order to reduce wait times and provide timely care to our veterans, we must address the root of the problem at many VA facilities in Colorado and across the country: staffing shortages,” said Senator Gardner. “When it comes to the VA hiring medical professionals we cannot let government bureaucracy and red tape stand in the way. The VA Secretary needs to take meaningful action to reform the hiring process and make sure facilities are able to hire the medical professionals needed to serve our veterans.”

“Veterans should receive high quality medical care without unnecessary wait times,” said Representative Tipton. “It’s unacceptable that many veterans’ access to doctors and medical specialists is delayed because of VA staff shortages in part because of a bureaucratic hiring process. I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to shorten wait times and will continue to look for ways to ensure veterans receive the best care and services possible.”

“For some veterans, long wait times and bureaucracy at the VA can be more than just frustrating, it can be devastating. As a veteran, and now a member of Congress, I promise to never turn my back on those that served and this bill is an important first step to finding new solutions to help remedy some of the troubles plaguing the VA,” said Representative Crow. “Right now, there are over 40,000 vacancies at the VA across its departments. Expediting the hiring process ensures we quickly and efficiently hire medical personnel who provide the medical care our veterans need and deserve.”   

Many VA hospitals continue to experience long wait times and staffing shortages as a result of the lengthy onboarding process for licensed medical providers. The VA released data last year reporting more than 40,000 staff vacancies across the VA system. According to a McKinsey and Company Assessment from September 2015, the VA hiring timeline spans 4-8 months, while a typical private sector organization hires staff between 0.5 and 2 months. Furthermore, “candidates for many roles are often unwilling to wait roughly six months to be on boarded, especially when positions with other hospitals are readily available.”

Peters has long been an advocate in Congress for Michigan’s servicemembers and veterans. Last month, Peters helped reintroduce bipartisan legislation to improve burial services for our nation’s veterans by increasing funeral benefits offered through the VA. Peters also coauthored bipartisan legislation to protect veterans exposed to toxic chemicals from open burn pits during their service.

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