By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, March 29, 2017, US Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) introduced HR1712, the Protection and Advocacy for Veterans Act, which would empower state and local Protection and Advocacy agencies to directly investigate the quality of mental health care and substance abuse treatment provided to veterans at the VA and allow these agencies to advocate for patients found to be receiving inadequate care.
Congresswoman Roby said, “For 40 years, Protection and Advocacy agencies in Alabama and around the country have provided a critical service by monitoring the quality of care in state-operated hospitals, clinics, and other facilities. I believe bringing this degree of expertise in patient advocacy to the VA would greatly benefit veterans, particularly those in need of mental health care or substance abuse treatment. In recent years, Congress has boosted funding for mental health care services and enacted legislation making it easier for the VA to attract mental health care professionals. This is a step in the right direction, but I believe we can do better. We owe it to our veterans to bring all available resources to bear to ensure access to proper treatment.”
According to Rep. Roby, Protection and Advocacy agencies monitor the quality of state-operated hospitals, clinics, psychiatric wards, prisons, and other facilities. Their agents have the authority to inspect medical records and take legal action on behalf of patients when necessary. Rep. Roby said that her bill would authorize funding for a pilot program testing the feasibility of utilizing Protection and Advocacy agencies to provide this service at the VA.
HR1712 has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Cosponsors for the bill include: Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nevada), Rep. Timothy Walz (D-Minnesota), and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York).
Improving the care that the Department of Veterans Affairs delivers to veterans has been a focus of Rep. Roby in the Congress. The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System was identified as one of the worst performing VA systems in the country when the VA healthcare scandal became public.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.