Florida sues VA, demanding access to hospitals

Florida charges in a lawsuit that VA hospitals operate "without independent oversight."
By Frances Burns  |  June 5, 2014 at 5:09 PM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., June 5 (UPI) -- Florida has sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs seeking the right to inspect VA hospitals in the state, officials said Thursday.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration and two veterans living in the state. In the complaint, the state said the VA has "rebuffed" efforts to investigate complaints about hospital treatment and has even refused to comply with requests for public records made under the Freedom of Information Act.

The state agency said that most hospitals in Florida and elsewhere in the country are subject to inspection and regulation by both state and federal agencies.

"In sharp contrast to the intensive oversight intended to guarantee minimum standards of care in such facilities in Florida and generally, the VA has operated a nationwide network of facilities essentially free of objective, independent oversight," the complaint said.

Nancy Hall, one of the plaintiffs, served in the Army from 1984 to 1987, while Roland Dickerson served from 1972 to 1978. The complaint said both have received care at VA hospitals.

The lawsuit was announced as senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced compromise legislation aimed at improving VA hospitals and allowing veterans to seek treatment elsewhere if they are unable to get care within a reasonable time.

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