America / United States Department of Veterans Affairs. VA

On Jan. 29, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs advanced U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s proposal to require reporting of medical employee shortages from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“In order to reduce wait times and provide timely care to our veterans, we must address the root of the problem at many VA facilities in Colorado and across the country: staffing shortages,” said Gardner in a statement.

The American Legion pointed out in 2018 that wait times for receiving primary, specialty and mental health care at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System all exceeded the national average. It followed a report from the Office of the Inspector General in 2017 found that the ECHCS improperly used unofficial wait lists for mental health therapies and may not have made correct staffing decisions based on the demand for care.

The report also discovered that veterans waiting for post-traumatic stress disorder consultations and care in Colorado Springs experienced extended wait times in part due to staffing shortages.

Gardner’s Veterans Improved Access and Care Act, as amended, requires reporting of the number of medical professionals whose hiring time exceeds guidelines, as well as the time candidates spend in each phase of the hiring process. Originally, the bill also required recommendations for expediting the certification of medical providers, which the amendment struck.

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