June 11, 2014
Chelsea Bland
(202) 639-4119
[email protected]

Largest Federal Employees Union Expresses Support for Veterans Compromise Bill

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today expressed support for bipartisan bill S. 2450 aimed at providing a comprehensive, balanced and evidence-based approached to improving health care access for America’s veterans. AFGE sent the below letter to Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders thanking him for his leadership on the legislation.

Dear Chairman Sanders:

On behalf of the 650,000 federal employees represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE), including 210,000 employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), I am pleased to express AFGE’s support for S. 2450.  This bipartisan bill provides a comprehensive, balanced, and evidence-based approach to improving health care access for our nation’s veterans. 

AFGE strongly supports provisions that will efficiently and quickly expand the VA’s in-house capacity to deliver timely, quality care to veterans, including additional funding for expedited hiring, better data collection on vacancies, and increased reliance on telemedicine.  We also applaud provisions that will enhance the Department’s long term capability to recruit providers, especially in geographic regions and medical practice areas of greatest need, and require meaningful workforce succession planning. 

The bill includes a critical focus on workplace factors that contribute to high provider turnover and diminished care, including heavy caseloads, counterproductive leave policies, excessive administrative duties, and inadequate clinic space to treat patients.

Your efforts to ensure, through this bill, that the use of non-VA care during the two year trial period includes utilization of existing government health care services, and thorough scrutiny of the quality, cost, and timeliness of care secured from the private sector, should also be commended. 

We also thank you for you leadership in expanding GI bill benefits and medical services for victims of military sexual assault.

Thank you for considering AFGE’s views on this critical legislation.

Sincerely yours,

Beth Moten

Legislative and Political Director

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