Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: February 28, 2013
Sen. Frank Simpson
Senate approves bills to improve services at state’s veterans
A trio of bills were unanimously approved Thursday by the full
Senate in an effort to improve services at the state’s seven
veterans centers. Sen.
Frank Simpson, the measures’ author and chairman of the
Senate Veterans Committee, said the bills are in response to issues
brought forth during the Senate Veterans Committee interim study
of ODVA this fall.
Senate Bill 228 would create the Quality Workforce for Oklahoma’s
Heroes Act. The measure would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs
(ODVA) to establish a pilot program to offer additional educational
opportunities to high performing veteran center employees in exchange
for them agreeing to work for ODVA for a certain amount of time.
“Our state veterans centers have a high turnover rate and
struggle to keep employee, which has a negative impact on patient
care,” said Simpson, R-Springer. “This pilot program
is an effort to keep good employees by offering them a chance for
promotion through increased education and training. We also think
this will help more employees want to make a career with ODVA.”
Another problem discovered during the interim study dealt with the
centers only being inspected by the U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs, which then contracts with private companies to do the center
inspections. The Veterans Committee found out that even though the
inspections are supposed to be unannounced, staff testified that
they usually know when they are happening and make necessary temporary
changes in order to pass.
SB 629 would require the state Department of Health to begin inspecting
state veterans centers again. Oklahoma’s veterans centers
were exempted from the Nursing Home Care Act in 2003 by the Legislature
after supporters claimed the health department inspections were
an unnecessary duplication because the centers were already subject
to federal inspections.
“Today was a great day for veterans in Oklahoma. The Senate
spoke with a unified voice and said we care for those who have served
our nation. This bill will provide the oversight and accountability
that has been missing for far too long. The residents of the centers
will now have their rights and protections restored and the families
of those veterans will have the peace of mind of knowing their loved
one is being cared for.”
Finally, SB 237 would exempt ODVA and its facilities from having
to pay the Nursing Facilities Quality of Care fee that the Oklahoma
Health Care Authority collects from all licensed nursing facilities
in the state.
These measures will now be sent to the House for further consideration.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Simpson: (405) 521-5607