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Rubio, Sinema Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Veterans from Unlicensed Examiners

Apr 10, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced the bipartisan Better Examiner Standards and Transparency for Veterans Act, or BEST for Vets Act, to ensure that only licensed health care providers are conducting medical disability examinations (MDEs) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Last year, reports revealed that contract physicians with revoked medical licenses have been performing MDEs on behalf of the VA.
The legislation is supported by the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
“Health care providers who have had their medical licenses revoked have no business performing exams on our nation’s veterans, but a loophole in current law allows this to happen,” Rubio said. “This bill closes that loophole and ensures that only health care providers who meet the VA’s requirements are able to treat our service men and women.”
“Our veterans have earned the highest quality care, and it’s unacceptable for the VA to deliver anything less. Our legislation protects veterans from unlicensed medical providers and helps ensure they receive disability examinations from providers they can trust,” Sinema said.
“We are pleased with the introduction of the proposed legislation to ensure that only licensed health care providers furnish disability examinations. We support its swift passage,” said Heather Ansley, Esq., MSW, Associate Executive Director, Government Relations, PVA.
“Veterans are dependent on the medical opinion of contract physicians, who perform their disability evaluations, to access much needed VA care and benefits. The VFW supports the BEST for Vets Act of 2019, which would ensure such physicians are qualified to conduct important compensation and pension examinations. The VFW thanks Senators Rubio and Sinema for their efforts to protect our nation’s veterans,” said VFW National Legislative Service Director Carlos Fuentes.
“Veterans medical disability examinations are incredibly important in ensuring veterans obtain accurate VA disability ratings for the injuries and illnesses they incurred during service and receive the benefits they have earned. As such, ill and injured veterans deserve to have these examinations conducted by qualified clinical providers, including those whom VA contracts with to provide these important examinations. DAV greatly appreciates Sens. Rubio and Sinema’s introduction of the BEST for Vets Act of 2019,” said Randy Reese, DAV Washington Executive Director.
Specifically, the BEST for Vets Act would:

  • Prohibit contract health care providers who have had their licenses revoked in any state from carrying out MDEs on behalf of the VA.
  • Require the VA Secretary to take action to ensure that only licensed health care providers are conducting MDEs.
  • Require the VA Secretary to submit a yearly report to Congress on: (1) the conduct of the pilot program allowing MDEs to be performed by contract health care providers; and (2) the actions of the Secretary to ensure only contract providers who meet the statutory licensure requirements are conducting MDEs on behalf of the VA.