Weekly newsletter of the Fleet Reserve Association

December 1 2017

In this issue:

Government Shutdown Date Approaching

CFPB in Turmoil 

VHA Failed to Address Provider Concerns

Rollout & Application Process for Veterans ID Card



Government Shutdown Date Approaching 

The Continuing Resolution (CR) currently keeping the government operating at last year's (FY2017) levels, is due to expire Wednesday, December 8.  Congress needs to lift the Defense spending sequestration caps to allow the pending spending bill (H.R.3219) and recently passed Defense Authorization bill (H.R.2810) to be implemented without automatic across-the-board punitive cuts to Defense programs. 

The Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) did not attend a scheduled meeting with President Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (Wis.), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). They were supposed to discuss numerous budget issues, including Defense spending levels. However, in response to a tweet from President Trump that said he didn't see "a (budget) deal between Democrats and the White House..." Senator Schumer went to the Senate floor and announced that due to President's tweet he and the House Minority Leader would only work with Republican leaders in Congress on budget issues.  Speaker Ryan and Senator McConnell declined to meet with Schumer and Pelosi about budget issues and said they already had their budget meeting with the President. Ryan later announced the House will work on passing another short-term CR to keep the government operating until December 22. 

CFPB in Turmoil

Chaos and uncertainty engulf the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) when the director of the agency resigned. Before his departure, he appointed CFPB Chief of Staff Leandra English to serve as acting director. The Trump Administration immediately appointed Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvany to the same position. In response, English filed suit in the U.S. District Court to block Mulvany's appointment but the court ruled in favor of the Trump Administration's appointment. Ultimately, the individual selected as permanent Director of CFPB will require Senate confirmation.  

FRA's Legislative Agenda includes working to ensure that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is enforced by regulatory agencies, including the CFPB, Office of Military Affairs. The agenda also works to ensure active duty personnel are protected from predatory lenders. FRA recently supported a CFPB regulation to make mandatory arbitration agreements in financial contracts unenforceable. Earlier this year, the House passed the "Financial CHOICE Act" (H.R.10), which seeks to dramatically reshape the regulation of banking and other financial activities. This legislation includes a number of provisions weakening the CFPB and its Office of Service Members Affairs.  The bill is currently in the Senate for consideration. Members can use the FRA Action Center  to ask their Senators to oppose this legislation.

VHA Failed to Address Provider Quality and Safety Concerns

A recent Government Accountability Office report (GAO-18-26) accuses the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) staffers of failing to detail potentially dangerous doctors to appropriate authorities. This prompted the House Veterans Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to hold an oversight hearing on the report. Chairman of the subcommittee, Congressman Bergman (Mich.) said the VA has approximately 40,000 providers in 170 medical centers treating 9 million veterans a year, therefore, ensuring the VA provides safe quality care is vital.

Dr. Gerard Cox, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Organizational Excellence for the VA stated, "We are taking three major steps to improve clinical competency and reporting by improving oversight to ensure that no settlement agreement waives VA's ability to report providers to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) or the State Licensing Boards (SLB), reporting more clinical occupations to the NPDB, and improving the timeliness of reporting." These steps come as a direct result of the GAO report that criticized the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) officials for what they see as systemic failures in the agency's documentation and investigation of complaints against clinical care providers.

The GAO report found that some complaints were ignored until investigators raised concerns. In other cases it took months or even years for some of the complaints to be investigated. "Refusing or failing to adhere to reporting requirements puts not just veterans, but all patients across the country, at risk of receiving substandard health care," said Bergman. 

The GAO report recommends the VHA address these issues. The VHA indicated it will implement all of the recommendations. Dr. Cox stated that Congressional oversight is important in maintaining a standard of excellence that the VA strives to meet. 

Rollout & Application Process for Veterans ID Card

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the application process for the national Veterans Identification Card (VIC) is now available. The card has been authorized by legislation since 2015. Veterans can apply for the ID card, which will provide proof of military service, promotional discounts and other services. 

"The new [VIC] provides a safer and more convenient and efficient way for most Veterans to show proof of service," said VA Secretary Shulkin. "With the card, Veterans with honorable service to our nation will no longer need to carry around their paper DD-214s to obtain Veteran discounts and other services." 

The VIC provides a portable and secure alternative for those who served the minimum time in service but did not meet the retirement or medical discharge threshold. Veterans who served in the armed forces, including the reserve components and who have a discharge of honorable or general (under honorable conditions) can request a VIC. 

To request a VIC, click here, scroll to the bottom of the page, click on "Apply for Printed Veteran ID Card" and sign in or create an account. Veterans can check the status of their cards on the vets website as well, and should receive their card within 60 days. A digital version of the VIC will be available by mid-December.



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