Congressman Kevin Cramer

Representing North Dakota, At Large

CRAMER: Bills Address Quality Care Issues for Veterans

Sep 28, 2016
Press Release

Click here for HR 5162 Vet Connect Act Audio

Click here for HR 5392 Veterans Crisis Line Audio

Click here for HR 3216 VET Act Audio

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Cramer supported three bills passed by the House of Representatives this week that address quality care issues to improve services for veterans.

H.R. 5162, the Vet Connect Act of 2016, requires the Veterans Administration (VA) to share medical record information with a public or private health care provider to provide care or treatment to a shared patient.  It authorizes the VA to disclose to non-VA entities that provide hospital care of medical treatment to veterans any records regarding the identity, diagnosis, prognosis or treatment of any patient seeking treatment at a non-VA facility.

“Veterans deserve the absolute best care possible regardless of where they go for treatment,” said Cramer.  “Sharing medical information to ensure they receive a quality diagnosis and treatment needs to be a basic protocol for all veterans everywhere.”

H.R. 5392, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act, requires the VA develop a plan to ensure that each telephone call, text message and other communications received by Veterans Crisis Lines is answered in a timely manner by a person. This legislation was written to address complaints about unanswered or delayed calls or inappropriate responses to calls from veterans to the crisis line. 

“Effective and timely mental health care for troubled veterans must be a basic service to our veterans,” said Cramer. “No answers or poor quality responses to veterans calling crisis lines is inexcusable. Our bill demands improvements in responsiveness and performance for every call made by a veteran to a crisis line.” 

H.R. 3216, the Veterans Emergency Treatment (VET) Act, requires the VA follow certain procedures to ensure high-quality care when veterans seek emergency treatment at a VA medical facility.  It requires the VA hospital to conduct a medical examination to determine if an emergency medical condition exists, stabilize the patient  or arrange a transfer, and prohibit delaying appropriate exams or treatment to inquire about payments methods or insurance status. 

“The mistreatment documented at some VA hospitals by turning away veterans in need of emergency services is unconscionable,” said Cramer.   “This bill clarifies the procedures for VA hospitals in providing appropriate emergency care for veterans, including diagnosis and stabilizing treatment .”

These bills now advance to the Senate for further consideration.