Local Congressman proposes VA reforms
U.S. Rep. Dr. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) recently proposed reforms for the Veterans Administration (VA) system. He wants the VA management to improve how they process veterans who seek medical care.
“When I think of the backlog of veterans trying to get into the system and get care that they really deserve, to me (this is) unacceptable,” Bera, a former Sacramento County chief medical officer, said.
Bera spoke about his VA Quality Care Act bill, which stemmed from a tragedy at the Mather hospital when a Vietnam veteran died after a “do not resuscitate” bracelet was mistakenly placed on his wrist.
In speaking to the VA system at large, Bera learned that it does not have a proper mechanism to prevent that type of tragedy from happening at other VA hospitals.
“That’s the purpose of introducing this bill,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure not just at the Mather VA, but at the VA hospitals all across this country, we are doing the best job possible. So, we should be sharing information (through a communications network).”
Bera also co-authored the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act with Chris Gibson, a Republican Congressman from New York and a retired Army colonel.
Although Bera is a Democrat, he explained that he had no opposition to directly working with a Republican on that bill.
“At the end of the day, taking care of our veterans is not Democrat or Republican,” Bera said. “It’s about really honoring these folks.”
Among the people assisting veterans through Bera’s staff is Sacramento native Matt Ceccato, who is an Iraq War veteran of two tours.
“Just having a veteran who knows the issues and knows what these men and women are going through certainly makes it a lot easier for us,” Bera said.
He described his office as a place that is consistently available to assist veterans.
“I think the message that I would have for the veterans in our district and in Elk Grove is our office is here to serve them,” Bera said. “If they have issues, trouble getting their benefits, they’re having trouble with the VA system, they should reach out to our office at www.bera.house.gov. We work for them and we’re here to meet their needs.”