Capito, Manchin sponsor bill to improve transparency at VA medical centers

Published: Aug. 30, 2019 at 8:03 PM EDT
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UPDATE: 12/10/19 12:30 PM

West Virginia's two U.S. senators introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday that would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to submit detailed reports on patient safety and quality of care at VA Medical Centers.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said the legislation ensures that Congress, veterans and their families are fully informed on the policies and procedures in place across the VA.

The bill would also require the VA to submit a detailed report and timeline of events surrounding several deaths being investigated at the Clarksburg VA.

"Victims’ families have waited long enough and deserve answers," Manchin said. "I can’t imagine having a loved one murdered at a VA Medical Center and after a year and a half, still not knowing how it happened. I want to make sure this never happens to another Veteran at any VA facility ever again.

"I’m proud to join Sen. Capito in introducing this bipartisan bill that will increase transparency at the VA and set the groundwork for greater accountability. Due to the lack of information being made available to the public, veterans across our state are having a crisis of confidence in the safety, security, and quality of their VA healthcare. This legislation will help our Veterans and their families gain insight into the policies and procedures that could have led to these homicides.

"Ultimately our goal is to help restore public confidence in the VA across West Virginia and the nation. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this commonsense legislation to ease the minds of West Virginians and their families and ensure that our Veterans are receiving the care they deserve.”

Capito said it's important for veterans to feel safe and cared for at VA facilities.

"No questions asked,” she said. “It’s for this reason that I’ve stayed on top of this issue since day one when the news first broke. Since that day, I have remained in close contact with those involved in this investigation, such as VA Secretary Wilkie, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell, Clarksburg VA Director Glenn Snider, and VA Inspector General Michael Missal, as well as checking in with staff on the progress of the investigation.

"It’s important that we get more information for the families, the veterans, and the community. We need to discuss how these tragedies happened and how to prevent similar occurrences in West Virginia and VA hospitals nationwide. This legislation will help us find answers to these questions and help make sure that tragedies like this never happen again.”

Sen. Joe Manchin visited the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg Friday to tour the facility and get an idea of its current conditions.

The senator says he is frustrated with the pace of VA Inspector General and has been in contact with U.S. Attorney General William Barr on the matter.

The justice department is involved with the investigation at this point which involves the investigation of two veteran deaths at the Johnson Center that were both deemed homicides by medical examiners.

Nine other veteran deaths at the facility are under investigation.

The federal prosecutor issued a statement on the deaths and investigations Friday.

Manchin says he has been visiting veterans, understands the desire for a speedy resolution and that many have expressed concerns to him about their safety at the Clarksburg facility.

Right now, he says it's all about restoring the trust in the VA.

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