Walorski Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Streamline Veterans Access to Care

Friday, July 31, 2015

Bill would provide clear set of standards for healthcare providers, vendors

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced legislation to help provide more efficient care to veterans. H.R.3422, the VA Vendor Verification Act, would eliminate confusion and provide a defined framework regarding how medical vendors should operate in Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs).

Healthcare industry representatives, better known as vendors, play a critical role in the health care system and provide important technical assistance to physicians and nurses in clinical settings, including operating rooms. Currently, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), America’s largest integrated health care system, provides care to almost 9 million veterans annually. The VHA requires each VAMC to develop vendor access procedures, causing confusion in medical centers across the country.

Last year, a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed inconsistent procedures governing vendor access and participation in patient care amongst the VA’s VAMCs. The report discovered several VAMCs allow vendors to participate in direct patient contact and in one such instance, vendor representatives were involved directly in the application of skin grafts at a VAMC.

“I want to thank Rep. Walz for working with me to ensure our veterans receive the highest standard of care. Medical vendors play an important role in providing critical assistance to doctors and staff to ensure medical procedures are done properly,” Walorski said. “Unfortunately, each VAMC develops individual guidelines with almost no direction from the main VHA office. That has created a patchwork of policies and lead to instances of inappropriate vendor involvement in procedures at the VA. This legislation will improve patient care for veterans and provide consistency for health care industry representatives working within the VHA and focus on what matters most – providing care to our veterans.”

“This bill will hold VA venders to the same standards used at the world renowned Mayo Clinic,” Walz said. “I’m pleased to work with my colleague Rep. Walorski on this common sense legislation to bring uniformity to the VA vender credentialing process.”

The VA Vendor Verification Act requires the VHA to implement vendor credentialing standards recommended by the Coalition for Best Practices in Healthcare Industry Representative (HCIR) Requirements, a coalition of industry and provider groups, which are nationally-recognized.

The Coalition for Best Practices in (HCIR) Standards also offered their support of the legislation. “The Coalition is grateful for Rep. Walorski and Rep. Walz’s leadership on this issue and for their efforts to further patient safety and privacy. This legislation is a strong step forward and the Coalition strongly supports its direction. We especially appreciate the endorsement in the bill of the Coalition’s Joint Recommendation for HCIR Credentialing Best Practices as the preferred national standard for all medical facilities under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Patients, hospitals, and vendors will benefit from uniform standards that minimize redundancy, reduce information costs, and avoid unnecessary administrative burdens while still protecting patients’ interests.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District in Indiana, where she serves as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee, and House Committee on Agriculture.

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