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New legislation seeks to tighten regulatory controls over VA

Would-be controls sought to be applied to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs underscore the growing degree of regulatory scrutiny being faced by medical actors across the country.

As we have noted in some past blog posts, that scrutiny is always intense, with the medical realm being perhaps the most closely overseen industry in the world.

Among medical organizations, though, the VA in particular has been subjected to especially strong oversight in recent years. Recurrent scandals and regulatory reprisals have seemingly become the norm for the agency, with stories successively featuring ratcheted-up penalties and adverse outcomes.

News from just last week buttresses that point.

To wit: Legislation introduced last Thursday on Capitol Hill once again targets the VA, specifically, medical providers in addition to the agency's doctors. If passed, a bipartisan Senate bill will require that the names of those workers -- nurses, physicians' assistants and additional employees -- be promptly passed along to a national database in the event that they are disciplined by the VA for providing substandard medical care.

That website -- the National Practitioner Data Bank -- is open to public scrutiny.

Additionally, the bill requires the VA to report any discipline to applicable state medical boards within 30 days of its administration. It would also stop the practice of deleting negative data from the personal files of any provider who is executing a settlement pact with the agency pursuant to job termination.

One of the bill's sponsors calls it a "commonsense piece of legislation" aimed at spotlighting malpractice acts and deterring problem employees from easily securing new positions outside the VA.

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