WASHINGTON, D.C. June 18 -- U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, Ranking Member on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, was appointed today to serve on the conference panel of House and Senate lawmakers tasked with finalizing legislation to address the systemic shortcomings within the VA healthcare system. The panel consists of six Democrats and eight Republicans.
"Serving our nation's veterans has been the highest honor of my career in public service, and now we must all come together -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- to roll up our sleeves and finalize a legislative package that best meets the urgent needs of the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our nation," said Michaud. "We have a serious task ahead of us, but I am confident that all of us share the common goal of ensuring our veterans receive the dignity, respect and care they have more than earned through their unrelenting service to our country. I look forward to working with my colleagues in finalizing a legislative package that substantively addresses the systemic failures plaguing our VA system, puts an infrastructure in place so that they never recur, and lay out a road map for how our VA can deliver high-quality, timely, convenient care to every single veteran it serves moving forward."
Michaud has voted for a number of bipartisan bills aimed at strengthening accountability and improving performance within the VA. Michaud supported H.R. 4031, bipartisan legislation that would make it easier to remove poorly performing VA executives; as well as H.R. 4810, which would make it easier for veterans not receiving timely care within the VA to get access to non-VA care. Michaud also has called on President Obama to enact key provisions from his own legislation, H.R. 4399, via executive order. Michaud's legislation would not only hold an even larger swath of VA executives accountable for performance, but it would establish patient goals and outcomes for ensuring veterans are receiving quality care. In addition to legislative action, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee is continuing to hold a series of oversight hearings into the matter. In fact, the committee has held more than 90 hearings this past Congress -- more than 50 of which involved oversight.
The Senate passed VA reform legislation last week. Michaud and his other conferees will now work on reconciling a final bill for approval before heading to the President's desk for signature into law.