Catch Up on Tester’s Recent Efforts to Increase VA Accountability, Transparency

Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee continues VA oversight efforts

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is continuing his relentless fight to hold the VA accountable to veterans and their families.

As the VA implements a growing number of major, bipartisan reforms, Tester is stepping up his oversight of the VA’s efforts to implement the VA MISSION Act, Forever G.I. Bill, and electronic health record modernization, among others.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester recently questioned VA Secretary Robert Wilkie about the VA’s capability to implement these reforms without investing in its medical personnel, infrastructure, and Information Technology (IT) systems. Tester continues to challenge the VA to live up to the promises made to our more than 19 million veterans:

Implementation of the VA MISSION Act

Following the VA’s announcement on community care access standards that lacked basic information or details, Tester led a group of Senators in asking 24 questions about the impact of these access standards on veterans, VA medical staff and employees, and American taxpayers. Their questions can be read HERE.

Tester and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) also led 55 members of Congress in weighing in on the VA’s open comment period regarding the proposed access standards. Their letter can be read HERE.

Increased Transparency at the VA

Tester led a bipartisan, bicameral call for more transparency of the VA’s simultaneous roll-out of major bills like the VA MISSION Act and disability appeals modernization, while undertaking the largest health record modernization project in the nation’s history. That letter can be read HERE.

The VA’s Misuse of Suicide Prevention Funds 

Following a report that the VA spent only $57,000 of the $6.2 million available for its suicide prevention efforts, Tester led 20 Senators in demanding that the VA do better. Their letter can be read HERE.

VA Caregiver Support Program

Tester’s VA MISSION Act also expanded VA caregiver support services to veterans – and their dedicated caretakers – of all eras. But the VA has seen little progress on preparing for that expansion. Tester and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) recently requested information about how the VA plans to make sure that they are ready to serve an influx of veterans by the October 1, 2019, information technology deadline. That letter is available HERE.

Punishing Veterans for VA Accounting Mistakes

Tester demanded the VA’s plan to make sure it’s tracking when it overpays veterans for their benefits, often withholding future benefit payments until the debt is repaid. Often, these overpayments are a result of the VA’s own accounting mistakes and not the veteran’s. He then doubled down by introducing the bipartisan Veterans Debt Fairness Act to forbid the VA from charging veterans for overpayments if the VA was responsible for the debt. His letter is available HERE.

More information about Tester’s oversight efforts can be found HERE or at veterans.senate.gov.